Thursday, April 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


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Gujarat Cabinet puts off decision on elections
Jaya joins oust-Modi campaign; Naidu firm on stance

Gandhinagar, April 17
In an apparent move to avert any problems for the BJP-led government at the Centre, the Gujarat Cabinet today deferred a decision on the dissolution of the state Assembly and holding of elections but kept the option open for an “appropriate time”.

With the strong backing of the party for seeking a mandate, a crucial meeting of the Cabinet, presided over by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, was held but an official spokesman later said the issue of the dissolution of the House and the holding of elections was not discussed.

“Not a single word was there about (elections). There was no discussion of any type either about the dissolution or elections,” he said.

The Gujarat Cabinet’s move came on a day when AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalitha, who was said to be keen on moving towards the BJP at the Centre, demanded Mr Modi’s removal and opposed any immediate Assembly elections.

Asked about the BJP national executive decision favouring such a course, Mr I.K. Jadeja, Urban Development Minister, told reporters that the Chief Minister had been empowered to take a decision and “it will be done at an appropriate time.”

The state Congress reacted to the decision taunting the Chief Minister that he was “scared” of an “imminent” defeat in the elections and that was the reason for deferring a decision on the issue despite a clear go-ahead from his party.

Mr Jadeja said it had come to the notice of the government that some of those taking shelter in relief camps had been allegedly involved in the killing of some party workers and therefore a high-level committee at the level of a Secretary had been constituted to investigate the incidents.

Senior officials would be nominated to the committee to make a comprehensive report on the issue, he said.

Agriculture Minister and official spokesman of the Cabinet Purushottam Rupala said the Cabinet discussed security and arrangements for the secondary and higher secondary examinations in the context of a call for boycott by Muslim students.

The meeting decided on the provision of security in buses carrying students and at examination centres. Video cameras would be installed in examination centres as part of the security arrangements, he added.

CHENNAI: The oust-Modi campaign on Wednesday received the support of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK General Secretary J. Jayalalitha, who said, “It is better if Mr Modi goes.”

Talking to newspersons at the Secretariat here, she said it did not augur well for Mr Modi to continue in office as violence, in the aftermath of the Godhra carnages, continued unabated in Gujarat.

Observing that peace was yet to return in Gujarat and both Houses of Parliament were paralysed for the past few days with the Opposition parties stepping up the demand for Mr Modi’s ouster, she said it was for the Centre to put an end to the impasse.

“In the overall interest of the nation, the Centre and the BJP should take necessary steps and take a good decision,’’ she said.

Hyderabad: Sticking to his guns on the demand for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s ouster, TDP supremo and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday asserted there would be “no compromise on the ideological fight”.

Virtually justifying the stalling of Parliament by the Opposition on the Modi issue, Mr Naidu said, “this is not the first issue on which Parliament is being stalled. It is usual for the Parliament (to witness such ruckus). We are fighting for a cause”.

While keeping his political options close to his chest, he declared at a press conference here “I am in the forefront to protect secularism. I differed with them (BJP leadership) because Gujarat should not be seen in isolation. It is a national issue”. PTI, UNI


Gujarat House dissolution likely after presidential poll
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 17
The Narendra Modi government, which today decided to defer the decision on early dissolution of the Gujarat Assembly, is likely to take a firm decision on the issue only after the crucial presidential poll likely to be held in early July.

More than the pressure mounted by the NDA allies against the snap polls, the BJP’s move to defer the decision on it is greatly influenced by the presidential poll, in which the support of the party’s electoral college in Gujarat will be crucial.

The tenure of Mr K R Narayanan draws to an end on July 24 and the Election Commission is bound to notify the date for presidential poll on or before May 24.

According to sources, Gujarat will go unrepresented if the state Assembly is dissolved before the presidential election and the Election Commission takes its own time to conduct the polls there.

“It would not be prudent on the part of the BJP to dissolve the Assembly before the presidential polls as the party will lose on the BJP’s electoral college there. Moreover, the dissolution of the Gujarat Assembly after the presidential polls, which is likely to be completed by early July, would also silence the critics who are opposing elections now citing communal tension in the state,” a senior BJP leader, who did not wish to come on record, told The Tribune here. According to the provisions of the Constitution, the Election Commission has to complete the poll process within six months from the date of the dissolution of the House.

A senior Election Commission official pointed out that the commission was not bound by government diktak and had to follow strictly the provisions of the Constitution and also took into account the ground realities, like law and order, in the place where polls had to be held.

“As such, even if, the Gujarat Government dissolves the Assembly today the Election Commission has time till middle of October to complete the election process,” he said.

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