Thursday, March 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Gujarat heads for snap poll?
Narendra Modi meets Vajpayee
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee having a discussion with Gujarat Chief Minister
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee having a discussion with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi while Home Minister L. K. Advani looks on during a meeting at Prime Minister's residence in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI photo

New Delhi, March 27
Gujarat may have a snap poll in the near future to take the beleaguered Chief Minister Narendra Modi out of the political and moral abyss he finds himself in since the Godhra carnage.

Mr Modi, who was summoned by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee here today, is understood to be in favour of a mid-term poll in the state as a face-saving solution to growing criticism of his poor handling of large-scale riots following the carnage.

However, the Prime Minister is believed to have conveyed to Mr Modi during a two-hour crucial meeting that the Chief Minister should await observations of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) which in all likelihood would come out with a stinker of a report, indicting the Modi government.

The Prime Minister’s advice to Mr Modi was the only way out for Mr Vajpayee, who left to himself would like to sack the “non-performing” Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister cannot be removed as the entire Sangh Parivar and the powerful Home Minister L.K. Advani are solidly behind him and “poor Vajpayee has no option but to suffer with Mr Modi as he is in no position to offer a solution to the eroding popularity of the party,” a BJP leader observed.

The poor performance of the BJP in not only the recently held Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Manipur and Punjab, but also in the municipal corporation elections in the Union Capital had robbed Mr Vajpayee of the command that he was enjoying until yesterday, he said, adding that “no politician worth his salt can afford to say that he is not bothered about the party’s poll prospects”.

Under pressure from the NDA allies and frustration of not being able to arrest the fast-sliding popularity of not only himself but also of the BJP, Mr Vajpayee’s anger came out yesterday during the joint session of Parliament when he decided to take on the Leader of the Opposition, Ms Sonia Gandhi, the BJP leader said.

Meanwhile Mr Modi has emphatically ruled out the winding up of any relief camp set up for riot victims, saying that the Prime Minister would announce a rehabilitation package for those affected by the violence when he visited the state.

Mr Modi claimed that the law and order situation was under control but the 97,000 persons living in the 101 relief camps would be allowed to return to their homes only after complete normalcy had been restored.

The Chief Minister said the state government made a half-hour presentation to the Prime Minister and Mr L.K. Advani, who was also present, about the relief and rehabilitation measures being undertaken.

The Chief Minister said Mr Vajpayee had agreed to his plea that the Centre should provide 50 per cent grant for the Rs 1 lakh compensation being paid to relatives of those who had died in the riots.

Talking to mediapersons after the meeting, Mr Modi denied that police officers had been transferred as punishment for taking action against rioters. “Your information is wrong. These are promotion postings,’’ he said.

About the report of the NHRC that had indicted the state government for not taking effective steps to control the violence, Mr Modi said the NHRC had sent a notice to the Gujarat government to which a reply would be sent.

The Chief Minister said peace was returning to the state. During the past week, more than 3,500 persons returning from the Haj pilgrimage had gone back to their homes and on Muharram, more than 1,000 processions were taken out peacefully.

Mr Modi said there was “no talk of change of leadership” and virtually ruled out early Assembly elections.

“No talk of change of leadership..... Everyone is satisfied. What are you saying,” he said in reply to a question whether the Prime Minister was satisfied over his handling of the situation and whether the change of leadership figured during the talks.

Meanwhile, giving a clean chit to Mr Modi, the RSS said no one else could have performed any better in the given situation.

“He did whatever he could do. Any government in Gujarat could not have performed any better in the given situation,” RSS spokesman M.G. Vaidya said.

AHMEDABAD (PTI): The police fired six rounds to contain mob-violence in the sensitive Nagoriwad locality of curfew-bound Shahpur area of the walled city on Wednesday.

According to Deputy Commissioner of Police D J Patel, the police resorted to firing after bursting of teargas shells failed to control the mob that indulged in heavy stone-pelting and also set ablaze a house in the area.

Two persons were injured in the stone-throwing incident at Nagoriwad where the situation had been brought under control, he added. Curfew, which was relaxed from 9 am till noon for women in Shahpur was withdrawn following the incident.

The situation in the Dudheshwar area of the city, adjoining Shahpur, was tense. 


Report submitted to NHRC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
The Gujarat Government today submitted a report to the NHRC on the recent communal violence in the state.

Sources in the NHRC said the 400-page report in three volumes would be scrutinised by the Commission Chairperson Justice J.S. Verma and members Justice K. Ramaswamy, Justice Sujata Manohar and Virender Dayal. The report would then be taken up at a full commission meeting. Copies of the report were also being circulated to the Secretary-General, head of the investigation division and Registrar of the NHRC.

The report cited the reasons for the spread of communal violence and also the circumstances under which the carnage at Godhra railway station took place.

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