Thursday, June 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Vajpayee clears air
Is all praise for Advani, Venkaiah

Mumbai, June 18
Putting behind the unsavoury leadership controversy that rocked the party recently, BJP leaders today closed ranks at their brainstorming session with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee heaping lavish praise on Deputy Premier L.K. Advani and party President Venkaiah Naidu.

Addressing the three-day ‘Chintan Baithak’ of the party ahead of the crucial Assembly poll, Mr Vajpayee, who had earlier caused a stir by announcing that Mr Advani would lead the party to victory, said, “not only he (Advani) is a source of strength for me in the government, but he also devotes a lot of time and energy to guide the party in its work.”

Mr Advani was not present at the meeting. He would be arriving for the meeting from his foreign tour late in the night.

The Prime Minister, whose remarks were seen as a rebuff to Mr Naidu’s statement that the BJP would be projecting both Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani in its poll campaign, also praised the party President for his “tireless efforts” to enliven the activities of the party.

“I am astonished by his (Naidu’s) energy level. If all the functionaries and activists work with such enthusiasm, I have no doubt that we shall overcome all challenges before us and arch towards success,” Mr Vajpayee said.

The meeting, being attended by senior party leaders besides RSS Joint General Secretary Madan Das Devi, is expected to draw up the battle strategy for the Assembly and Lok Sabha poll besides preparing the party’s ‘Vision 2020’. Mr Vajpayee exhorted BJP workers to strive with single-minded determination for victory in the forthcoming Assembly elections to five states and next year’s Lok Sabha poll.

“The atmosphere is favourable to the BJP and our allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA),” Mr Vajpayee said.

Addressing a small gathering at the sprawling Rambhau Mhalgi Foundation Complex, Mr Vajpayee said the people of the country had formed a “good opinion” of the BJP and the government because of the “work we have done in the past five years on diverse fronts”. PTI, UNI


Atal my leader, says Advani

London, June 18
Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani yesterday asserted that there “is no dual leadership’’ in India and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was his leader.

“He (Mr Vajpayee) is my leader,’’ Mr Advani, who was on a four-day visit here, said in an interview to BBC. PTI

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