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Indian Government Jolted as Eight Lawmakers Expelled

January 11, 1991

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Eight lawmakers of Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar’s governing party were expelled from Parliament Friday for having switched party allegiance, including five ministers in his 2-month-old government.

Foreign Minister V.C. Shukla, Health Minister Shkeelur Rehman and three junior ministers were among those disqualified as members of the decision- making lower house of Parliament, the Lok Sabha.

With the removals, the governing Janata Dal-Socialist Party holds only 54 of 522 seats in the lower house.

The party maintains control through the support of 212 deputies of other groups, including the Congress Party of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Chandra Shekhar’s party is a breakaway of former Prime Minister V.P. Singh’s Janata Dal Party. It defected when Singh’s government collapsed Nov. 5.

Under a law aimed at keeping individuals from crossing party lines, any breakaway faction must carry at least one-third of the original party’s members.

House Speaker Rabi Ray recommended the expulsions. He said the original splinter group that founded the Janata Dal-Socialist Party was composed of more than the required one-third, but the eight legislators disqualified Friday crossed over later.

The Press Trust of India news agency quoted Singh as saying, ″The speaker has set a precedent whereby it will be known to all the defectors that they cannot reap benefits for their unprincipled action.″

Singh and his colleagues had demanded disqualification of 37 Janata Dal- Socialist Party members.

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