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ELECTIONS 2004

Personal attacks on Sonia blamed for poor performance in Gujarat

Manas Dasgupta

Tuesday 18 May 2004, by DASGUPTA*Manas

GANDHINAGAR, MAY 18. The Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, had to face a barrage of attacks for the BJP’s poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections in the State.

At a party meeting held here to review the post-poll scenario, many leaders felt that Mr. Modi’s high-pitched personal attacks on the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, and her family members cost the party dearly not only in Gujarat but also in other States.

Those who attended included the former Union Minister, Kashiram Rana, the former Chief Ministers, Keshubhai Patel and Suresh Mehta, the party’s State unit president, Rajendrasinh Rana, and the national treasurer and the party official in charge of Gujarat affairs, Ramdas Aggarwal.

Among other factors raised at the meeting were the anti-farmer policies of the Modi administration, particularly the hike in power tariff in the farm sector, which alienated the rural voters from the party. The leaders said that many MLAs and their supporters felt disheartened and demoralised because of Mr. Modi’s refusal to expand his Cabinet or appoint them as chairmen of the State-owned boards and corporations.

Mr. Modi was also reportedly blamed for not taking the senior leaders into confidence in administrative matters, which created a chasm between the Government and the people. Though no names were taken, allegations of sabotaging the prospects of the candidates belonging to a rival group were also directed against Mr. Modi.

Asked about the allegations, Mr. Aggarwal said he did not know whether any such complaint had reached the party. The State unit president would be authorised to take appropriate action against those indulging in anti-party activities.

Claiming the party’s "total support" to Mr. Modi, he said there was no question of seeking his resignation though the BJP’s performance in the State was "much below the party’s expectations." No leader could be singled out for it and the Congress demand for Mr. Modi’s resignation on this ground was "unfounded."

The Assembly and parliamentary elections were "two different planks" and the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections should not be taken as the barometer to judge the Chief Minister’s popularity, Mr. Aggarwal said. The Congress should also dismiss its own party Governments in States where they fared badly. He said that no demand was made for the change of leadership in the State. It would be wrong to interpret the outcome of the elections as a "defeat" for the BJP because it had won more seats than the Congress. "At least in Gujarat, we have won and all were happy at the outcome."

Even as Mr. Aggarwal said a detailed review of the post-poll scenario would be held after the by-elections to some district and taluka panchayats next month, it is learnt that the meeting authorised Mr. Mehta, who was also the chairman of the party’s Lok Sabha election campaign committee, to prepare a constituency-wise detailed report.

See online : The Hindu

P.S.

in The Hindu, Tuesday, May 18, 2004.

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