Friday, March 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

BJP to evolve code of ethics
Party leaves door open for Trinamool
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 29
Shaken deeply by the Tehelka revelations, the BJP under the leadership of its new President, Mr K. Jana Krishnamurthi, today sought to regain at least some of its lost high moral ground by deciding to evolve a code of ethics for its elected representatives and for those holding any public office.

Addressing his first press conference after assuming charge of the party, Mr Krishnamurthi ruled out the expulsion of his disgraced predecessor, Mr Bangaru Laxman, and said he was asking his party colleagues to prepare a note on the code of ethics which could be presented to the National Executive for approval.

“Whatever we expect from others, we will try to uphold in our party first”, Mr Krishnamurthi said in a conscious effort to rebuild the party’s popular image.

In another move, the BJP President, who came to occupy the party’s highest post only after Mr Laxman resigned in the wake of the Tehelka expose, said the party was seriously considering to hold a Virar type of “chintan baithak” (brainstorming session) some time later this year so that senior leaders could meet together and discuss the further steps to be taken by the party in the developing situation.

The party had held a “chintan baithak” in Virar a few years ago to discuss the growing problems of indiscipline and other growth-related issues. The meeting was attended not only by top BJP leaders but also by some of the key RSS leaders.

Responding to persistent questions on Mr Laxman’s expulsion from the party, Mr Krishnamurthi said “if and when he is found guilty by the inquiry, we shall not hesitate to take action. But the question of expulsion now does not arise.”

On the demand for action against Mr Laxman, he said though one or two members at the National Executive had made a passing reference that he should resign from the Rajya Sabha, the collective decision was that “since he has voluntarily stepped down from the office of the party President, we will leave it at that.”

Asked about erosion of ideals in the NDA where alliance partners were jumping in and out of the arrangement for their political convenience, Mr Krishnamurthi said there was nothing ideological in the NDA. The NDA was for governance, he pointed out.

At the same time asserting the supremacy of the party over the government, Mr Krishnamurthi said “Wherever the BJP government is in power, wholly or partly, the party will continue to have a vigil on its ministers.”

On an alliance with the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal for the coming Assembly elections, he said “Our doors are open till Ms Mamata Banerjee does not make her stand clear on her party’s support to the Vajapyee government”.

However, the BJP’s state unit was going ahead with its electoral preparations with or without an alliance with the Trinamool Congress, he said.

Asked as to who was the main political enemy of the BJP in West Bengal and Kerala, Mr Krishnamurthi said, “Our main objective is to oust the Marxist rule in both these states but this does not mean that we support the Congress.

Earlier, declaring that “people’s interests” were the touchstone of the BJP’s existence, the new BJP President said, “The party will not hesitate to place its views to the government on any policy or measure which was not in people’s interests. We will draw the attention of the government to the grievances and reaction of the people to its measures and policies.”

In reply to a question on the BJP’s ties with the RSS, Mr Krishnamurthi sought to distance the party from the Parivar saying that the RSS was like a university from where we have graduated.

Terming the RSS as an alma mater of the BJP leaders and cadres, Mr Krishnamurthi said “while we apply in our political life what we have learnt there but the relationship is confined to that.”

In this context, Mr Krishnamurthi made it clear that the question of the BJP spelling out its own agenda, besides that of the NDA, did not arise. “In formulating and finalising the NDA agenda and in giving total acceptance to it, the BJP is a party to the agenda”, he pointed out.

Reiterating numerous charges against the Congress, the BJP leader said the main Opposition party had “utter disregard” for parliamentary norms.

While the BJP and several other parties have glued together on a mutually discussed and accepted programme of governance with a determination to carry the country forward politically, socially and economically, the Opposition, principally the Congress, has not adapted itself to the changed situation, which has been brought about by the electorate of the country, Mr Krishnamurthi said.

“We have absolutely no objection to the Opposition playing the role of a critic and opponent. Parliament is a place for debate, discussion, deliberation and decision. But it is not a place for behaving out of frustration, dejection and defeat. We hold the Congress guilty of utter disregard for parliamentary democracy by continuously interrupting the proceedings of the two Houses, which are the two vital symbols of the people’s trust and confidence”, Mr Krishnamurthi said appealing to the Congress and other Opposition parties that “with all our differences in policies and programmes let us see that Parliament is not made the casualty in our political and electoral fight.

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