M A I N   N E W S

Decision on LS poll by Jan 14, says Mahajan
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 10
The Bharatiya Janata Party swung into election mode today with its general secretary Pramod Mahajan not only targeting Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, but also lifting the veil over the prevailing suspense of early poll. He said the two-day session of the party’s national executive would set the tone and timing of the next Lok Sabha elections.

At a meet-the-press programme here, he said “Sonia’s nationality and ability” would be an issue at the next general elections. The BJP and its partners in the NDA were against her becoming the Prime Minister, he said.

“I am not against her marriage, or her being the Congress leader or even being the leader of the Opposition. I rather welcome her as the Opposition leader and Mr Vajpayee as the Prime Minister since she does not create any problem for my leader,” he said.

“She reads her speeches, never interjects when Mr Vajpayee is speaking in Parliament or intervenes in debates,” he pointed out in a clear attempt to ridicule her.

He said the Hyderabad session of the party’s executive would be ‘historic’ as its resolution or the Prime Minister’s speech, either during the session or at the Sunday rally, would give enough indication about the dissolution of the 13th Lok Sabha and the holding of the next general elections.

“There is no suspense about early general election,” he maintained.

“By the time of Makar Sankranti (January 14) when the sun enters Uttarayan, the exact date of the elections would be known,” he said. Though the exact dates would be decided by the Election Commission, the government’s recommendation for dissolving the Lok Sabha would set the tone, he said.

During the hour-long interface with the media, he focussed on the elections and the shape and future of the National Democratic Alliance.

Ruling out any electoral alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party, he admitted that an effort was made, but it failed on the issue of the NCP’s assessment of its political strength in Maharashtra.

“We never stop making efforts, but at present I don’t see any possibility of an alliance with the NCP,” he added.

On the homecoming of former BJP leader Kalyan Singh, Mr Mahanjan remained elusive on the ground that neither the party has invited him, nor has he sought formal permission.

Showering encomium on the Prime Minister, Mr Mahajan said at the age of 80 Mr Vajpayee was being compared with the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

“He is set to equal the record of Mr Nehru and Ms Indira Gandhi when he becomes the Prime Minister for the fourth time in a row,” he said.

He dispelled the impression that if the BJP got absolute majority, it would bid adieu to the NDA. “Even if the BJP gets an absolute majority, the NDA shall rule the country for a fresh period of five years,” he added.

The BJP national executive would also take up the issue of possible alliances and partners, he said.


Hyderabad Diary
Naqvi unable to match Mahajan’s aggression
Satish Misra

While BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan is going all out to hog the media limelight, other general secretary Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is also official spokesman of the party, is at a loss to match his colleague’s aggressiveness. Naqvi, along with Minister of Urban Development Bangaru Dattatreya, came to inaugurate the media centre at Hotel Fortune at 2.30 pm. On being asked if the national executive meeting would decide about the timing of the Lok Sabha poll, he merely said it would discuss the issue. Confronted with Mahajan’s assertion about three hours ago that there was no suspense about early elections, Naqvi was seen looking over his shoulders.

* * *

The BJP is still maintaining silence over its alliance with the ruling Telegu Desam Party even though Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has started preparing the ground for being part of the NDA. Even as BJP leaders are saying that the details are still to be worked out, Naidu has started saying that an alliance with the BJP would be in the interest of the state.

* * *

Big hoardings and posters have appeared all over the city which predominantly show Prime Minster Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and BJP President M. Venkaiah Naidu. Naidu, being a Telgu Bidda, is leaving nothing to chance to make the four-day party show a success. He has instructed party managers that the “feel good factor” should be translated into action for all those who come to attend the meeting.


Bhajan sees early Assembly poll in Haryana
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 10
With early Lok Sabha elections almost certain now, Haryana Congress chief Bhajan Lal said today that the Assembly elections in the state could also be held earlier than expected. His party was prepared to meet the electoral challenges, he said.

He said the Chautala government could go in for simultaneous Assembly elections in understanding with the BJP.

The term of the state Assembly ends in March next year.

He said the Congress wanted early poll to “rid the electorate of the anti-people policies of the present government”.

He said the Congress was holding three public meetings in the state every month and a detailed programme was being worked out in view of the impending poll.

The state unit, he said, had invited Congress President Sonia Gandhi for a rally in the state which could take place at Hisar in the last week of February.

Ruling out any changes in the PCC, he said it was not the right time to make changes.

Admitting that there were ‘some differences’ in the party, he said such a scenario had always existed, but efforts would be made for greater cohesion in the state unit.

Mr Bhajan Lal, who has been PCC chief for 14 months, favoured some changes in the party candidates for the Lok Sabha poll. He said senior leaders should contest the poll. The Congress had not won any seat in Haryana in the last Lok Sabha poll.

He said there was no need for the Congress to enter into any alliance in the state, but the final decision would be taken by the party’s central leadership.

He said the Chautala government had ‘failed’ to fulfil promises made to the people. “The law and order situation is bad. Unemployment is rising and development has suffered. Even the INLD’s coalition partner has been raising fingers at the government,” he said.

He said ‘failures’ of the Central Government were equally appalling and his party would target both the Centre and the state government in its rallies.

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