Tuesday, January 14, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Security, development BJP poll plank
Tribune News Service

Venkaiah Naidu New Delhi, January 13
Issues of security and development would be in the main focus of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election campaign during the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya, party President M. Venkaiah Naidu announced here today.

Talking to newspersons to announce the holding of an international conference on terrorism by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Mr Naidu said the party was confident of a good showing in Himachal Pradesh where it had a strong leadership.

About a possible electoral alliance in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP President said the matter was under consideration at various political fora and a decision would be taken at the appropriate time.

Admitting that the party was on a weak footing in the three north-eastern states where it was considering electoral alliances with the Samata Party and the Naga Peoples Front, Mr Naidu said, “Talks are on with these parties for an electoral alliance.”

The party’s strategy in these three states was with a dual aim to secure power and keep the Congress and Left Front out of contention, he disclosed.

Mr Naidu said keeping in view the coming Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi, a high-level meeting of the state presidents, Leaders of the Opposition, central ministers from the four states and party in charge of these states had been convened on January 20 to formulate the electoral strategy.

He said the party leaders at the meeting would review the prevailing political situation in the four states and decide accordingly.

Earlier, Mr Naidu lashed out at the Congress, saying that the Opposition appears not to have learnt a lesson.

The Congress was continuing with “Hindutva bashing” even after facing a rout in Gujarat, Mr Naidu said adding that it would face an electoral debacle in the coming assembly elections.

The BJP President said the party thought the Congress would learn from Gujarat and stop this “pseudo-secular” stand. “But, the Congress does not appear to have learnt a lesson. It would reach the same position in other states as in Gujarat,” he pointed out.

He said the Congress had to answer on several issues like POTA, history textbooks and deportation of illegal immigrants. “The Congress must make its stand clear on the removal of certain passages from history textbooks, deportation of illegal immigrants and POTA which is needed to fight the menace of terrorism,” Mr Naidu said.

In the Assembly elections, the party would focus on development and security.

Admitting that the BJP’s influence in the north eastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland where Assembly elections are slated for this year was limited, he said, “We will support non-Congress and non-Communist groups in these states.”

“The Congress has become nervous after the Gujarat Assembly elections and is suffering from Gujarat phobia. The Congress President, spokesman and other leaders are all continuing their Hindutva bashing and also targeting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and BJP,” Mr Naidu said.

He said “people all over the country are sad at what happened in Godhra and Ahmedabad except the Congress which is sad only about what happened in Ahmedabad.”

He took exception to the Hindu bashing of the Congress not only in India but also abroad and for describing what happened in Gujarat in post-Godhra period as “genocide.”

“What happened in Gujarat was unfortunate. But, it was communal riots and not as the Congress had said that it was genocide,” Mr Naidu said.

Mr Naidu said the Congress had also made light of the feelings of Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani on Gujarat. “He (Advani) was sad over what happened not only in Godhra but also in Ahmedabad. In fact the BJP is sad for what happened in Gujarat,” Mr Naidu said.

The BJP President raked up the 1984 Delhi riots following the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the reported remarks by Rajiv Gandhi that when a big tree falls, the ground shakes.

The BJP President announced the launching of the second phase of “Gaon Chalo Abhiyan” from January 16 to February 11 as part of the party’s policy to reach out to the people of rural background, identify their problems and look for a solution.

The campaign is also aimed at increasing the party’s support based in rural India.


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