Tuesday, February 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

No referendum on govt: PM
Assembly elections in four states
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 11
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said today the results of the forthcoming Assembly elections would by no measure be a reflection of a referendum on the Centre and the government’s performance.

Political circles here attach a lot of importance to this averment and interpret it as the BJP seeing the writing on the wall in the coming elections.

In the Prime Minister’s observation, however, it would be erroneous if the outcome of the Assembly elections were construed as a referendum on the Centre. “The Centre does not come into the picture at all. The outcome of the elections will have an impact on political parties”.

“There are no complaints against the Centre and if there are any, they are against the states,” he said, adding that it would be erroneous if certain quarters sought to establish a direct correlation between the outcome of the elections and the performance of the government at the Centre. Mr Vajpayee was scheduled to address election rallies in Bareilly and Agra today, which had to be cancelled due to inclement weather.

He also ruled out any post-election alliance with parties such as the BSP in Uttar Pradesh and expressed confidence that the BJP-led alliance would win a clear mandate in the largest state of the country.

With regards to Uttaranchal, he said it was a direct fight with the Congress, maintaining that the anti-incumbency factor would sway public opinion against the BJP.

Refusing to get drawn into the speculative numbers game, the Prime Minister said : “Let us wait and see” and maintained that the past week’s campaigning had

significantly improved the prospects of the BJP retaining power in Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal.

Expressing concern about the verbal personal attacks on rival politicians during campaigning, he said it was unfortunate that politicians could stoop to such levels.

On his own public criticism of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Mr Vajpayee said: “I did not expect Soniaji to carry out a campaign at this level .... I checked myself from being more harsh .... though there is a lot to say”.

To a question whether Mr Rajnath Singh’s elevation as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh could have come a bit too late and could prove costly for the party, Mr Vajpayee said: “There were some difficulties in making him Chief Minister (earlier) .... Kalyan Singh was opposed to him. The previous Chief Minister (Ram Prakash Gupta) was appointed after eliciting views from all quarters and the mantle was passed on to Rajnath Singh, also after taking everybody into confidence”.

Mr Vajpayee said the proposed threat of the VHP to construct a Ram temple in Ayodhya from March 15 was unlikely to improve the chances of the BJP in the hustings.

“It (threat) will neither bolster BJP’s election prospects, nor will it prove to be detrimental because everybody knows about our attitude towards the temple issue”.

He also denied reports that the Law Minister had already submitted report to him.

Mr Vajpayee said pressure on Pakistan should mount after the extradition of Aftab Ansari, the prime accused in the attack outside the American Centre in Kolkata.

“The pressure on Pakistan should mount .... We are also emphasising on the list of 20 wanted fugitives”, he told newspersons in an informal chat here.Back

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