Sunday, December 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Vajpayee hits campaign trail
Praises Modi’s leadership

Vadodara, December 7
Hitting the election track towards the fag end of the campaign in Gujarat, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today came out in full support of Chief Minister Narendra Modi and asserted there should be no dispute over religion.

Addressing his first election meeting in this city which had witnessed communal violence early this year, he praised Mr Modi’s performance and said after the “unfortunate” incidents of communal violence, peace and amity now prevailed in the state.

“God is one but the ways of prayer can be different. But in our country, there is equal respect for all religions. There is no compulsion. Each one is free to follow his faith.

“There can be debate, but there should be no dispute over religion that divides the society,” he said.

Mr Vajpayee, who had asked political parties at the start of the campaign not to rake up Godhra and the subsequent violence, avoided any reference to these.

Charging the Congress with failure on all fronts, Mr Vajpayee said though the party had got opportunities, it had “failed”.

He said it was the NDA government which decided to test a nuclear bomb but not the Congress which wanted to do it but could not because of pressure.

“The Congress wanted to do but it could not do. We do what we say and say what we do,” he said.

Referring to the long-felt need for inter-linking of rivers, Mr Vajpayee said while his government had now decided to take up this project in the backdrop of disputes between various states on river-water sharing, the Congress had neglected the issue.

Pointing out that “harsh words” were common during electioneering, he said “the bitterness during elections should end with the poll.”

The Prime Minister asserted that the NDA government was determined to make the country “invincible, progressive and prosperous.” “We want to make India an advanced country whose foundation will be age-old traditions,” Mr Vajpayee said.

Asking the people to return the BJP to power, Mr Vajpayee said this would ensure better coordination between the Centre and the state for the benefit of the people.

“You should not elect a government which will keep on quarrelling with the Centre and settling political scores instead of working for the development of the state," he said, pointing out the Centre’s assistance to Gujarat during the devastating earthquake and later the drought.

Exhorting the people to exercise their franchise without fail, he said "you should not sit at home as every vote has got its value and importance" and elect the BJP which has been working for the people for the past five years.

In this context, the Prime Minister narrated the story of a king who had asked his people to fill a tank with milk. The next day he found that it had been filled only with water as each person had thought that the others will pour milk.

He said with the people’s support, the BJP’s strength in the Lok Sabha had jumped from two earlier to over 200 and the party had spread across the country.

Mr Vajpayee said a way out of the Kashmir problem was emerging as he vowed that India would defeat Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.

"Kashmir samasya ko hal karne ka raasta nikal raha hai (A way to solve the Kashmir issue is emerging)," he said.

Referring to the just-concluded Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Vajpayee said though Pakistan had warned that those casting ballots would face bullets, the people of the state displayed exemplary courage and participated in the poll.

"They (people) were not frightened. They braved bullets and took bullets but voted to demonstrate the value of votes," he said, adding that "if anybody wants to know the importance of votes, ask the people of Jammu and Kashmir."

Referring to his Independence Day address promising free and impartial elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister said "people had laughed at it, questioning how it was possible."

"But we have done it," he said. PTI


Advani to address 7 meetings in Gujarat

Ahmedabad, December 7
The BJP’s campaign in Gujarat is reaching fever pitch, with Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani slated to address seven public meetings and as many as 41 public meetings to be addressed by several prominent personalities.

Mr Advani will address seven meetings, including three in Ahmedabad, tomorrow, according to BJP sources.

In a high-profile election campaign Union Minister of State for Tourism Vinod Khanna will address six public meetings at various places tomorrow while TV actor and anchor Shekhar Suman will tour Ahmedabad city and district and address a youth rally at Siddhpur (Patan).

Union ministers Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Dr Satyanarayan Jatiya and Ms Uma Bharati apart from former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and Chief Minister Narendra Modi are also being roped in to address several public meetings. UNI

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