M A I N   N E W S

Line of succession already decided, says Vajpayee

New Delhi, April 15
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today disclosed for the first time that the line of succession after him had been decided in the BJP, but declined to give any name.

“There is a consensus within the party as to who will replace,” he told a news channel in an interview when asked “would it be L.K. Advani”. In the interview, after filing his nomination papers from Lucknow, Vajpayee denied he had contemplated retirement.

Asked what he would do after retirement, he said “I would like to go back to poetry and writing”.

He also called for an immediate end to all personal attacks on Congress President Sonia Gandhi. “I don’t know why senior leaders continue to attack her even when I had asked them not to do so. This is unfortunate and should not have happened. This must end now.”

He was replying to a question on what he thought of remarks about Gandhi by BJP leaders Narendra Modi and Vinay Katiyar.

Elaborating on the issue of foreign origin, he said the question of people of foreign origin occupying public office was a problem before the people. “It is not we who raked this up. It is the Nationalist Congress Party which did it. It is a controversy which should be debated upon in the country. But the controversy doesn’t mean that we should single out an individual, in this case Sonia Gandhi. This is an issue about a policy and not about an individual,” he said.

Asked whether he would push for a legislation on the issue as stated in the NDA manifesto, he said “I think there should first be a national debate. Only then the question of a legislation should arise. If we have a majority in the House, a legislation should be passed.”

He said he had intervened to deny Dilip Singh Judeo the ticket for the Lok Sabha elections. “I think it (cash-on-camera scam) was an incident that should not happen in public life. Such things do not enhance the stature of politicians”, he said.

On the recent stampede tragedy in Lucknow, he admitted that it had left him shocked. “It is a setback and a reminder to all of us that India does not only shine. Amid the glitter, there is darkness. We need to address the area of darkness.”

On Gujarat riots, he said he condemned them from day one. However, he had said that the riots could not be seen in isolation from the Godhra train massacre. “I do not justify what happened in Gujarat. What happened in Godhra was wrong, but what happened post-Godhra was also wrong”, he said.

To a question on the Best Bakery case, he admitted that the victims had not got justice.

On Ayodhya, he said “resolving the issue was not on my agenda. I tried to get the communities to talk, but ultimately it is an issue that cannot be resolved by me as Prime Minister alone. It requires the support of sadhu-sants and the Muslim community. Only then, it can be resolved.”

Asked whether he saw the linking of roads as his biggest achievement, he said, “Next I would like to see the inter-linking of rivers.” — PTI

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