Advani Doesnt Speak, PM Says They Have One Voice

New Delhi, October 25: | Updated: Oct 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee used the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rally organised to mark his governments three years in office, to demonstrate his proximity with the deputy prime minister LK Advani. Dismissing reports of their differences, Mr Vajpayee blamed the media for making mountains out of (a) molehill. In a subtle show of deference and camaraderie, Mr Advani decided to skip his speech. Everone wants to hear the PM, NDA convenor George Fernandes announced on the DPMs behalf, as time ran out owing to a long speech by BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu.

Scenes from NDA rally held in New Delhi on Friday to mark Prime Minister AB Vajpayees 3 years in office
Mr Fernandes thus gave Mr Vajpayee an excellent opening. In his characteristic style, the PM began, I was asked to speak. I wanted Mr Advani to speak.... I hope there will not be a headline tomorrow that Mr Advani did not speak! Referring to reports about a tussle with Mr Advani, Mr Vajpayee said baat ka batangad ho raha hai (mountains are being made of mole hills). We (Vajpayee and Advani) have worked together and will continue to do so. I ask the press to be careful.

The PM also referred to his cancelling of Lucknow press conference on Sunday and said, I cancelled it because of the throat problem. Next day I see reports in the newspapers that Vajpayee ran away from Lucknow. Lucknow is my constituency. Why should I run from there....But newspapers want eye catching headlines.

On a philosophical note, he said you cannot do big things with a small heart...we (he and the DPM) will walk together, speak together and face challenges together.

In his 20-minute speech, the Prime Minister sought to play up his governments priorites including the foodgrain position, river water disputes, drought, economic situation and coalition politics.

On the economic front, Mr Vajpayee said inflation was well under control and foreign exchange reserves were comfortable. He flagged his commitment to development of roads and and housing.

The biggest achievement, Mr Vajpayee said, was that the government ensured peace and harmony. He blamed Pakistan for Indias terrorist problems. While Pakistan was claiming to fight terrorism, it had no hesitation in sending terrorist suicide squads into India to kill innocent people including women and children.

Referring to the just-concluded Assembly elections in Jammu and kashmir, he said holding of free and fair polls was a slap on the face of Pakistan and militants were hiding their faces in shame.

Claiming that the polls would change the course of history, he asked all political parties in the state to work together.

In an apparent reference to the on-going stand-off between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on sharing of Cauvery waters, Mr Vajpayee made a veiled attack on Congress governments in the past for not taking any initiative in linking of rivers in the country.

Had major rivers been linked, the country would not have faced problems of recurrent drought and agriculture would not have remained solely dependent on the monsoon, Mr Vajpayee said.

In an oblique criticism of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Pravin Togadias remarks against Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Mr Vajpayee said there was no place for violence or abusive language in politics.

One should not cross the limits of decency and decorum and only civilised language should be used, he said.

Referring to the communal violence in Gujarat, he said what happened there cannot be forgotten. We should ensure that it is not repeated, he said.

Vajpayee was also critical of the incident in Jhajjar in Haryana in which five dalits were lynched recently.