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India's Vajpayee threatens to quit.

NEW DELHI, July 31 Kyodo

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, upset by differences in his ruling coalition, threatened to resign Tuesday, but retracted the idea after party members convinced him to stay on.

Vajpayee offered to step down during a meeting of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentary group, saying he has been unable to discipline his National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition.

The prime minister expressed his decision to quit because of his ''inability to have the NDA function in a coherent and disciplined manner,'' a Press Trust of India (PTI) report said.

Some members of the NDA, an alliance of more than 20 parties, have been criticizing the government on various issues, including a recent scandal involving Unit Trust of India (UTI), the country's largest mutual fund, and Vajpayee's recent summit meeting with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

On Monday, a member of BJP's oldest ally, Shiv Sena, pointed accusing fingers at the prime minister's office by alleging the involvement of one of its former key aides in the UTI scandal, even as the government was trying to defend itself in parliament against opposition attacks over the issue.

Upset over criticism from his own allies, Vajpayee announced his decision to quit at the party meeting Tuesday morning, PTI, quoting unnamed sources, said.

There were even some differences in the coalition over Vajpayee's recent talks with Musharraf, forcing India's interior affairs minister and the number two in the government, L.K. Advani, to ask alliance members ''not to behave like the opposition.''

The image of Vajpayee's ruling coalition, which came to power in 1999, had already taken a beating following a corruption scandal earlier this year. Allegations of mismanagement, which have affected more than 20 million investors, have been hurled at the government, which controls UTI.

The opposition has already been demanding the resignation of Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha because of the UTI scandal. Sinha was unable to make statement in the upper house of parliament Tuesday on the UTI issue because of opposition members shouting for his resignation.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Aug 6, 2001
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