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Vajpayee seeks Muslim support to usher in political change in U.P.

Monday 25 December 2006, by KHAN*Atiq

"Lawlessness and anarchy rampant under Samajwadi Party Government"

LUCKNOW: Even as the other Bharatiya Janata Party leaders harped on Muslim "appeasement" and strident "Hindutva," the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, presented his "moderate" face when he sought the cooperation of the Muslims to usher in a political change in Uttar Pradesh.

Mr. Vajpayee said he wanted to ask the Muslims whether they were satisfied with the Mulayam Singh Yadav rule in the State before seeking their support.

The Member of Parliament from Lucknow said his party was ready to move forward (with the minority community) as the country was also ready for a change.

Mr. Vajpayee’s statement at the BJP’s "parivartan" rally here startled the other leaders, who had earlier reiterated the party’s stand on the "appeasement" policy, aggressive Hindutva and Ram temple.

In what was seen as a strategic position taken by the BJP stalwart after the three-day deliberations at the party conclave, Mr. Vajpayee’s address was reminiscent of his election speech at Lucknow during the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

Then, the former Prime Minister had asked the Muslims to support Mr. Yadav.

Addressing the huge rally to kick off the BJP’s election campaign in Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Vajpayee said "lawlessness and anarchy" were rampant under the Samajwadi Party Government and demanded the Centre’s intervention to ensure free and fair polls.

Stating that `jungle raj’ reigned in the State, he demanded "quick and effective action" by the Central Government in the interest of the people whose lives and property were "unsafe" under the present regime.

Mr. Vajpayee wanted the Congress to clarify its position and attacked the party for its reluctance to initiate stern measures in the State.

He said though the U.P. situation was bad, he became more concerned about the State after his meeting with the Governor, T.V. Rajeswar, at Raj Bhavan on Sunday. Mr. Vajpayee emphasised that the Government’s "failure" to improve the law and order situation displayed a lack of political will.

Rising prices

Stating that the situation in the country was also a cause for concern, he assailed the UPA Government for the rising prices, unemployment and corruption, and said that it appeared that the country had lost its way under the present regime. He rejected UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s charge that the NDA Government was responsible for the price rise and other problems.

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L. K. Advani warned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that if he compromised on India’s stand on Jammu and Kashmir, the UPA Government may not be able to complete its term. He slammed the Prime Minister for "endorsing" Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf ’s proposal of a joint India-Pakistan Government in Kashmir. The country’s sovereignty could not be divided.

Reminding BJP supporters of his Somnath-Ayodhya "yatra" in 1990, Mr. Advani said that only a BJP Government in the State could fulfil the commitment to build the Ram temple.

Party president Rajnath Singh accused the UPA Government of pandering to Muslim sentiments and said the Government’s move to grant separate reservation to the minority community would sow the seeds of another partition of the country.

Mr. Singh said while the Congress, the SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party were one on this issue, the BJP would resist their move.

He said the U.P. Chief Minister had promised "Uttam Pradesh", but in the three years of his governance criminals and thugs were ruling the roost.

The former Chief Minister, Kalyan Singh promised everything to the people if the BJP came to power from finishing `mafia raj’ within 30 days (of taking office) to increasing the sugarcane procurement price to Rs. 200 per quintal.

Though he mentioned aggressive Hindutva, Muslim appeasement, cultural nationalism besides reiterating his commitment to build a Ram temple, his address was a toned down version of his speech at the national council meeting on Saturday. While approving the resolution on appeasement, Mr. Singh repeatedly linked Muslims with terrorism, reportedly annoying some leaders, including Shanawaz Hussain.

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