Sunday, August 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

BJP projects Advani as next PM
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee lights the lamp
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee lights the lamp to inaugurate the BJP National Council meeting in New Delhi on Saturday, while Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani, BJP President Venkaiah Naidu and Union HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi look on. — PTI photo

Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala with Union Minister for Agriculture Ajit Singh
Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala with Union Minister for Agriculture Ajit Singh during the National Council meeting of the BJP in New Delhi on Saturday. — Tribune photo Mukesh Aggarwal

New Delhi, August 3
The meeting of the National Council of the Bharatiya Janata Party held here today carried the stamp of Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani who gave a clear signal of the party’s commitment to the National Democratic Alliance allies.

Mr Advani, as if positioning himself for the future prime ministerial battle, lashed out at the Congress and the Left parties and assured the NDA allies of the BJP’s commitment to coalition politics.

The meeting concluded on an aggressive note with party leaders, including party President M. Venkaiah Naidu and Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, lashing out at the Opposition and chalking out a programme of the party in a 19-page document, entitled “Delhi Pledge”.

The message for the party cadres and leaders was clear that power was gravitating towards Mr Advani under whose directions Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi and Finance Minister Jaswant Singh were made to sit on the dais along with Mr Naidu and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Leaders of its allies were also present.

In a message to the allies, Mr Advani said the NDA experiment had strengthened federalism and the Vajpayee government was more representative in character, both geographically and socially, than the first non-Congress government at the Centre led by Mr Morarji Desai, which hardly had any representation from the South and the East.

Claiming that the Congress was incapable of forming a coalition government at the Centre, Mr Advani asked party cadres to maintain the best of relations with regional parties.

Proposing the ‘Delhi Pledge’, he emphasised that the BJP had adopted a strategy of coalition in 1996 after emerging as the single largest party in Parliament, which has paid rich dividends and “it is not easy for the Congress” to adopt such a policy.

The senior BJP leader told party workers that they should not be wary of regional parties but should ensure that the party had the best of relations with such organisations. He said what was necessary was to give a “right direction” to the relations between BJP and its allies.

Attacking the Congress, the Deputy Prime Minister suggested that the Opposition posed no threat to the NDA government. He used cricket terminology, he said, “The Opposition does not have bowlers to get us out. If we get out, then it would be a hit wicket”, he said.

Mr Advani said, “Our’s is not only a party with difference, but also a government with a difference”.

“Our’s is not just another party. It is a party with a difference, like the Congress was a movement before 1947. Our’s is not a party but a nationalist movement,” he asserted.

Stating that the ‘Delhi Pledge’ which is a sort of a guideline for partymen, had been prepared after much thought, he said Mr Vajpayee’s declaration in 1980 that the BJP was a “party with a difference” had an electrifying effect.

Regretting that some party workers put personal agenda before that of the organisation, he said the party would achieve success if workers at all levels did introspection.

As regards minorities, Mr Advani wanted them to emancipate themselves from the “clutches of vote bank peddlers”.

Turning to cross-border terrorism, he expressed confidence that India would achieve “a decisive victory” in its fight against the menace.

“We will get victory in the proxy war like the one we got in 1971,” he said.

Earlier, opening the one-day meeting on an aggressive note, the newly appointed President launched a frontal attack on the Congress, saying that it had failed to address any of the major issues facing the country during its four-decade rule.

Soon after the ratification of his appointment as party President amid the chanting of “Vande Mataram”, Mr Naidu asked his party colleagues to be vigilant against the “destabilisation instincts” of the Congress and Communists.

“Let us counter the Congress effectively and defeat it decisively, Mr Naidu said, virtually identifying the Congress as its main adversary in the run-up to the Assembly elections in 10 states within a year.

Blaming the Congress for a host of problems being confronted by the country, the BJP President said though the party was in power in many states, it was incapable of addressing any of the major issues facing the country. It was precisely for this reason that the responsibility of the BJP had increased manifold, he added.

Mr Naidu said it was the Congress which had been demanding the removal of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi but was now scared of facing the election. “This party had always played negative politics,” he said and claimed that the BJP would win the Assembly elections very comfortably.

He also declared that there was no need for the BJP to be apologetic about its ideology. It had never given up its programmes and policies, he added.

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