Saturday, June 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

PM may have deputy
Central rule likely in J&K before poll
Our Correspondent and agencies

Lucknow, June 28
The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, today hinted at a major reshuffle in his Cabinet including the creation of a post of Deputy Prime Minister. He also indicated that a proposal to impose President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir, to ensure free and fair poll there, was under active consideration of the Central Government.

Setting at rest all speculations Mr Vajpayee said many ministers would be shifted to party organisation and posts vacated by them would be filled by those who till date were in the party organisation. “All the NDA partners, who till now were not in government including the Trinamool Congress and the PMK, will find a place in the Cabinet,” he said and added: “In short I can say that expect a large scale reshuffle on July 1 at 6 pm.”

Mr Vajpayee, who is in his two-day visit to Lucknow — his parliamentary constituency, dedicated many developmental projects to people and gifted a circular train to the people of his constituency.

Justifying his decision to carry out a major reshuffle, Mr Vajpayee said it was time for retrospection for the government, which had completed over two years in power. Recent Assembly elections had proved that everything was not well with the party as well as the government. The message was loud and clear. And acting on that message, “we have decided to carry out this reshuffle, which will be a holistic one”, he said.

Addressing a press conference he minced no words in accepting that there was a proposal for creation of a new post of Deputy Prime Minister. The proposal had been discussed threadbare with the NDA partners. Decision in this regard would be taken soon, he added.

When asked about doubts being raised over the conduct of free and fair elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister said all steps would be taken to ensure a free and fair poll in J&K. If need be President’s rule could be imposed there. “This proposal is also under consideration of the government”, he said.

In the same vein Mr Vajpayee added that the National Conference leaders were levelling false allegations of betrayal against him. “Initially, there was a proposal to make Dr Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister of J&K, as Vice-President of India. This proposal was later shelved and Dr Abdullah was informed about it. He also knows the reasons as why we were forced to abandon this decision.

“Moreover, he (Dr Abdullah) recently met me in Delhi and assured all help to the NDA government at the Centre,” said the Prime Minister.

Reacting to the willingness shown by the Hurriyat Conference to have parleys with Indian Government, Mr Vajpayee said: “We are ready to talk with anyone as long as the offer does not carry any riders. It is Hurriyat leaders who had refused to speak to Mr KC Pant. Now, they are willing to speak to us, we welcome them.”

Ruling out a war with Pakistan Mr Vajpayee voiced apprehensions that President Pervez Musharraf would not be able to fulfil his pledge to end infiltration of militants into Jammu and Kashmir.

“There is no question of war,” he said in reply to a question.

He said tension along the border had eased but ruled out the withdrawal of troops from the borders at the moment. “The situation at the borders is reviewed from time to time and decisions taken accordingly”, he added.

Asked about apprehensions that neither the infiltration nor cross-border terrorism had stopped, Mr Vajpayee said he shared such apprehensions.

But, he said Pakistan was tied to its assurance to halt cross-border terrorism and hoped international pressure would continue to be mounted on it to implement its promises.

The Prime Minister also ruled out any dialogue with Pakistan until the latter stopped aiding and abetting cross-border terrorism and infiltration.

He said India was always ready to talk to Pakistan on all bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir but added that a conducive atmosphere was a must for holding of such a dialogue.

The Prime Minister termed as “unfair to him” when a reporter posed a question whether the country always looked at the USA while formulating its policies on the stand-off with Pakistan.

Talking on the Ayodhya issue, Mr Vajpayee said his party favoured that this issue should be resolved either through talks or through judicial intervention. He, however, refused to take note of VHP statement in which it had claimed that it would not honour any court verdict. “We should live in peace giving respect to members of all religions and faith,” said Mr Vajpayee.

The Prime Minister declined to comment on Kanchi Shankaracharya’s statement that the Prime Minister had no time to settle the Ayodhya issue.

“I do not want to answer the statement,’’ Mr Vajpayee said.



PM mollifies Farooq

New Delhi, June 28
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee tonight spoke to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, who had earlier reacted angrily to his statement on Central rule in the state, and clarified his remarks.

Mr Vajpayee clarified that his answer to a question was the Centre was committed to a free and fair poll and the suggestion of Central rule was one of the options. PTI


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