Friday, October 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

President’s rule likely in Gujarat
Satish Misra and Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 3
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is considering the option of imposing President’s rule in Gujarat.

While Mr Vajpayee favours such an option, it is understood that a few of his ministerial colleagues from the allies have also put pressure on him to bring Gujarat under Central rule.

The ministerial colleagues have conveyed to the Prime Minister that if the BJP was keen to have a full term for its government which would be the USP for the party, he should resist the temptation of holding Assembly elections in Gujarat under Chief Minister Narendra Modi. This strand of thought was premised on the fact that no non-Congress regime has ever completed a full-five year term in the Centre.

The eruption of communal violence in Vadodra and Bhavnagar has disturbed Mr Vajpayee along with many of his NDA colleagues, including Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.

Mr Vajpayee is perturbed that despite his giving a long rope to the Sangh Parivar when he agreed to the continuation of Mr Modi as Chief Minister in Gujarat at the BJP National Executive session in Panjim in April this year, attacks on him and his government from the Vishva Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh have become much sharper and shriller.

In this background, Mr Vajpayee’s advisers are believed to have convinced him that it was time for him to reassert his authority.

A top source said that the original plan was that Mr Vajpayee would hand over the reins to Mr L.K. Advani sometime later this year. However, recent developments in Gujarat and cross-utterances on the thorny issues such as disinvestment had forced Mr Vajpayee to take over a more authoritative role.

The original plan was to ensure a smooth leadership transition from Mr Vajpayee to Mr Advani by November. The fundamental assumption in this line of thinking was that the BJP would be able to register a two-thirds majority in the Assembly elections in Gujarat, which would have been over by November.

The source, however, said the subsequent developments in Gujarat and observations of the Election Commission arguing against holding early elections in the state threw a spanner in the works.

The political undercurrents preceding the major organisational restructuring of the BJP in July was reflective of an emerging metamorphosis in the top leadership of the party, the source said.

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