Gujarat backlash halts Indian parliament
NEW DELHI, India -- Angry opposition lawmakers have forced a halt to proceedings in the Indian parliament as they increased calls for the chief minister of Gujarat state to quit over his handling of recent religious riots.
Shortly after parliament returned from a three-week recess, several MPs stormed the well of the lower house chamber chanting slogans blaming Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's party for the violence.
"Today Gujarat is burning, tomorrow the country will burn," shouted one MP from the opposition Congress party as he and several other lawmakers stormed to the center of the lower house, forcing the speaker to adjourn proceedings.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is a member of Vajpayee's Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Opposition parties accuse Modi of doing little to halt the carnage after gangs of Hindu rioters went on the rampage, killing hundreds of Muslims, destroying their businesses and leaving thousands homeless.
More than 800 people died in the clashes making it the worst sectarian violence seen in India for more than a decade.
Vajpayee under pressure
Congress, which is the largest opposition party, has threatened to block proceedings in Parliament until Modi is dismissed.
It and several other opposition parties say they have lost faith in Vajpayee's coalition government for his refusal to sack Modi.
Over the weekend a key BJP ally, the Telugu Desam Party, stopped short of carrying out its threat to withdraw support for the government over the issue.
However, it said it would continue to demand that Modi be fired.
Loss of support from the Telugu Desam would leave Vajpayee's government with only a wafer-thin majority.
The violence in Gujarat was sparked by an attack on February 27 by a gang of Muslims on a train carrying Hindu activists returning from the northern Indian town of Ayodhya.
Several carriages of the train were firebombed and at least 59 Hindus were killed.
WORLD TOP STORIES:
Blix: 'Iraq could do more'
N. Korea warns of nuclear conflict
Serb hardliner refuses to plead
NASA: Flight-deck video found
Caracas tense after bombs
|Back to the top|