M A I N   N E W S

LS poll may be in March or May
Naidu focuses on BJP strategy
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 11
In a vitriolic attack on the principal opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party president M. Venkaiah Naidu today said, “For the first time in its 119-year-old history, under its present leadership, the Congress is worried about its survival”.

Delivering the presidential address at the beginning of the two-day national executive meeting, Mr Naidu focused on the BJP’s electoral priorities, strategy and talking points for the workers to motivate and influence the electorate in favour of the party.

BJP spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who briefed the media about the inaugural address, said the Union Cabinet may meet on January 14 or 15 to decide about a Vote-On-Account which may set the dates of the early Lok Sabha poll around the first or second week of March.

However, speculations about the exact dates of the Lok Sabha elections are being made. One section still maintains that the poll would be held April-May and the other insists that it would be middle of March.

Mr Naidu said, “The Congress is today a party without unity, without clarity, without ability, and without acceptance among the people”.

The Congress mass base is shrunk, he said, and ridiculed opposition party leader Sonia Gandhi, without naming her directly, using a magazine’s cover title, “Honey, I shrunk the Congress!”.

Asking the party workers to turn the “feel good factor in the country” into a “feel great factor” in the coming months, Mr Naidu proposed to set up a ‘chunav sahay nidhi’ as a one-time measure for collecting contributions for the election campaign saying that “resources are very crucial for the election campaign”.

Setting out the party’s priorities for the next five years, Mr Naidu almost gave out the contours of the BJP election manifesto. He said the government would launch an attack on poverty and work for faster ending of regional disparities, bridging the urban-rural divide, creation of employment and self-employment opportunities on a larger scale, taking up the implementation of ambitious projects like river linking, improving primary education, primary healthcare, drinking water and sanitation and other social sector services and making agriculture profitable even for small and poor farmers.

In an effort to convince the party worker and the electorate of the BJP victory rather than the NDA’s electoral victory, he said while more sections of the Indian society, in more regions of our vast country, “are willing to support us, the contrast with the Congress and the rest of the opposition is stark”.

“The Opposition is disunited. It is leaderless. What is the choice before the people besides Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he pointed out.

“In their inability to unite under the leadership of the Congress and their refusal to accept its president as a prime ministerial candidate, the opposition parties are toying with the comical idea of forming two platforms to defeat the NDA, he said.

Asking the partymen to “reach every village, walk every street, knock at every door and talk to every voter”, Mr Naidu urged the workers to “reach out to the minority community sisters and brothers, who have seen through the self-serving propaganda against the BJP”.

“Boldly cross the mental barriers of hesitation, vote for the BJP and strengthen Mr Vajpayee’s leadership. You have nothing to lose, except the false notions created by our opponents”, Mr Naidu said.



Andhra CM confident of NDA victory
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 11
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu today expressed confidence about the victory of his party and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the coming Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, asserting that “anti-incumbency factor has been converted into pro-incumbency” by the development work undertaken by his government in the state and the Vajpayee government at the Centre.

In an informal interaction with mediapersons, camping here to cover the BJP meeting, Mr Naidu said that he was confident that his developmental work would be honoured by the electorate, and that is why people of the state would give the Telgu Desam Party a five-year mandate to complete his mission of making Andhra Pradesh the front-ranking state of the country.

Brushing aside all suggestive questions about his coming to the Central politics, the Chief Minister said that he wanted to convert Andhra Pradesh into the “engine of growth for the rest of the country”.

Asked about the alliance or an electoral understanding with the BJP for the Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections, Mr Naidu said that “it was too early to say anything on the issue, we shall sit together at the appropriate time”.

Lashing out at the Congress, Mr Naidu said that the Opposition party was making tall promises like free power to the people, which their own governments in 15 states had not done.

The Congress was doing “double talk” on many issues, he said adding that the Opposition party was supporting Naxal groups like the PWG.

“During 100 months of power, I have taken the literacy rate from 43 per cent to 73 per cent and aim to make the state fully literate by 2005. In Andhra Pradesh, the BPL rate is 15 per cent, while in the country it is 26 per cent”, he said.

On supporting the NDA from outside, Mr Naidu said that the state has benefited from the arrangement and the “status quo” shall continue.

Showering praise on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mr Naidu that the NDA government in the past five years has done Indians proud and has imparted confidence in them, imbibing them with a spirit of “India can do it”.

“India will be a developed country by 2015 and would be a superpower by 2050”, he said.



Glowing bulbs illuminate town
Satish Misra

AT NIGHT, the city of Nizams these days turns into a literal festival of lights. All trees are illuminated. No place is bereft of the glowing tiny bulbs. Local residents say that the city has this appearance on Independence Day or the Republic Day but wonder why now? The reason: the BJP is holding its meeting here and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is going to grace the city, said a resident. But insiders say that it a sign of the growing affinity between the Telugu Desam and the BJP. Both sides are out to please each other.

* * *

The big question here is why did BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan on Saturday drop hints of a General Election in March when it is almost impossible to hold the electoral battle in the next two months. Insiders say that Mr Mahajan was out to please Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu who wants the election in February or latest by March so that he does not have to face the dilemma of presidential rule.

* * *

BJP official spokesman and general secretary Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s words on Saturday while inaugurating the media centre were that “feel good” factor would also be felt by all and sundry. Journalists are no exception, he said and smiled. He was possibly referring to the arrangements made for the mediapersons. They have been given, unlike on the previous executive meetings, the comforts of almost a five-star hotel.

* * *

Competition has infected even the local media. The Deccan Chronicle published a survey about the Chandrababu Naidu government declaring that the TDP government would have a third term. Copies of the newspaper were kept for distribution to mediapersons during an informal interaction between the Andhra Chief Minister and mediapersons on Sunday morning. Though the paper was two days old, it was distributed probably because the owners want to please the powers-that-be. Once considered to be close to the Congress, the paper is trying to change its image as times are changing.


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