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The Election Day Results Chat
Hussaini (Mon Mar 2 1998 5:57)
This is Shihan Hussaini in Madras. I would like to know what is happening in the country and your reaction to the results coming in.
Hussaini (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:0)
I would like to talk to somebody in the BJP. I was for the BJP coming to power. I always felt that BJP in power would be a lesser evil than the BJP out of power. Now that there is a trend of success for the BJP in the results, will the BJP really protect us, the Muslims?
Hussaini (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:9)
Tejovikas: Though I am very much an Indian and I have been going around championing the cause of people being Indians rather than Muslims, the present scenario here in Tamil Nadu has left a lot of secular-minded Muslims isolated. Actually from today I have been given a gun man from the Tamil Nadu government to guard me. So, I am left with no alternative but to think for once, 'Oh Yes, I am identified as a Muslim and so I can't but think about the welfare of people like me!'
Hussaini (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:13)
Ali: The election results certainly have a bearing on a personal concern of every individual and community at large. This certainly is the right time to debate such things.
Saisuresh Sivaswamy (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:14)
Shihan Hussaini is familiar to many Rediff readers. He is the man who featured in our freedom section, the karate expert who married a Hindu girl and got into a lot of trouble over that. He is Mr Joe Citizen, someone with very interesting views.
Hussaini (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:17)
Shalini: I suppose the present regime has had a soft corner on Muslims as a whole and were hesitant to take action against fundamentalists, fearing erosion of the minority vote bank. I also think that since the RSS and other Hindu fundamental organisations have been fomenting and instigating religious fires, the fundamentalists are gaining ground.
Hussaini (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:22)
Shiva: Why do you ever think that I ever refused to integrate myself in the mainstream. I certainly do not want any special status. I as an individual would certainly want a uniform civil code. In fact, I would be the happiest person if some government would have the guts to take off not only columns like caste and creed from every application form but also the column 'religion'. Identifying oneself on paper as either a Muslim, a Hindu or a Christian should become crime as much as calling someone a 'pariah'.
Hussaini (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:24)
R Bhatnagar: This is Hussaini and not Husain. For your information, if you have been reading the papers, I am the same Hussaini who painted M F Husain the artist in the nude and protesting against the nude Saraswathi.
Rediff@BJP HQ, Delhi (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:27)
Here, the most talked about contestant is Pramod Mahajan. The shadow defence minister and one of the most articulate leaders of the party in the Lok Sabha is hot property at the central office...
Rediff@BJP HQ, Delhi (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:28)
"Pramodji will win even if it is a by a slender margin of 1000 votes," is the refrain here.
Rediff Team, Congress HQ: (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:30)
The crowd at the Congress office has thinned... Only a few remaining to meet any leaders that step in...
Rediff@BJP HQ, Delhi (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:32)
The losses in Rajasthan is definitely going to affect the party's prospects in the coming assembly elections too. As the state is going to the polls soon, the Lok Sabha results are an indicator of the shape of things after the assembly elections too...
Hussaini (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:33)
Shalini: I certainly did in the earlier statement...The BJP in power is a lesser than the BJP out of power. What actually we need right now is a secular dictator who can really roll the country back as a religiously secular ....peace loving entity. And then this dictator must hold a democratic election (just day dreaming!).
Prem Panicker (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:34)
Rediff-Congress>> Hey, I would have thought that the crowd would be growing at the Congress office, given that the party is not doing too badly...
Rediff Team, Congress HQ: (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:36)
Sorry, Prem...but that's how things stand. There has not much activity at the Congress office at all through the day. The office has been filled with journalists. Many of them coming to our desk to get the latest trends... Tomorrow should be better... Well, that's what we hope...
Hussaini (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:39)
Sanjeev: You are right Sanjeev, suspicion and the onus of proof for being a true Indian should be uniform, irrespective of religion.
Hussaini (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:43)
Sheila: Though I don't believe in any religious festival -- irrespective of whether it is a Muslim or a Hindu one, I don't celebrate any of them -- I certainly respect people in celebration and I always put a tilak on my forehead when offered, and you are most welcome to offer me sweets after every major pooja in your house. (Offered sweets taste the sweetest).
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:45)
HELLO EVERYONE: I AM READY FOR YOUR QUESTIONS...
Rediff@BJP HQ, Delhi (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:46)
We just talked to BJP vice-president K L Sharma. Sharma says, "the trend is clear -- we will win." He feels that the reversals in Rajasthan is not going to affect the poll prospects for the assembly elections to be held later this year...
Rediff@BJP HQ, Delhi (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:47)
Sharma says that the reversals in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Haryana are not going to be dampener as the party is gaining unexpectedly in Tamil Nadu and the other southern states...
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:48)
EVERYONE, SO FAR THE COUNTING IS STILL GOING ON. SO IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE TO ANNOUNCE MY VIEWS AS TO WHO WILL FORM THE GOVERNMENT..
Rediff@BJP HQ, Delhi (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:51)
What seems to dominating the discussions here is the unexpected gains in the south and the setbacks the BJP is receiving in Maharashtra and Gujarat. BJP leaders are admitting to a wipeout in these two states.
Ghulam Nabi Azad: Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:52)
Well, I still hope the Congress will emerge the single largest party and will be in a position to form the govt.
Rediff@BJP HQ, Delhi (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:52)
Coming back to the pet topic of Pramod Mahajan, what worrying the BJP is the face is that he is BJP's most well-known face in the western area. If he loses, it will be a major cause of embarassment for the party.
Ghulam Nabi Azad: Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:53)
We have already had maximum gains from Maharashtra, the stronghold of the SS and the BJP, and Rajasthan, a BJP-ruled state.
Hussaini (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:54)
Ali: I object to your view on me having vested interests and that I have no say in my community's affairs. Which madman told you that I'd get mad if you question me about the Koran? The Koran always was, is and will always be a sacred book to me as much as is the Bible, the Bhagavat Gita and the Granth Sahib. I always stand for taking the best from all religious books.
PS: Your renoucing your faith when you read the Koran is only misleading and illogical.
Ghulam Nabi Azad: Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:55)
Sonia did make an impact in all parts of the country...and Mrs Gandhi could create an atmosphere for the Cong party which she did and it was for the loicalk Cong man and the Cong candidates to have follow up action and take an advantage of her visit.
Prem Panicker (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:56)
Mr Azad: Rather surprisingly, Sonia Gandhi appears to have made little or no impact in Tamil Nadu. Nor in Punjab, despite her apologies for Bluestar and the anti-Sikh riots. Could it be that the Sikhs, in particular, felt the apology was election-oriented?
Ghulam Nabi Azad: Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:58)
Vikramb: Well, I think, in politics, one has to be brave and one should not die before death...
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 6:59)
MALLU: After elections are over, the UF and Congress will sit together and decide about it. As far as Mr V P Singh's suggestion, he had said earlier that the UF and Congress should contest the elections together. But it was not accepted by both of them. So Mr Singh dropped the idea.
Hussaini (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:0)
Ali: I really don't understand the contexts in which you are speaking out your confused mind. What the hell are you trying to say? Anyway, I don't expect an answer nor am I interested in getting more confused by your misguided logic. OVER AND OUT! (As in using a walkie talkie).
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:2)
Mulla: The secularism of Janata Dal is not pseudo-secularism. In fact, if secularism is given up, this country will face very bad days. As for Mandal, the main issue is that there has to be justice in the iniquitous caste society. In fact, secularism and social justice both is to promote equity in the social structure of India. And this is the same ethos which guides the Janata Dal in advocating federalism.
Ghulam Nabi Azad: Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:3)
Tejovikas: Well, the people should realise that we were not responsible for pulling down the govt, rather that we were responsible for sustaining the govt for 18 months, even by opting a role for the Cong party which was neither here or there, but in the interests of the nation, to avoid election after the fall in 13 days of the BJP govt in May '96.
Had we not extended support to the UF, elections would have taken place in 1996... Just within one month, because the govt led by BJP did not survive more than 13 days. We should be given credit for withholding elections for 18 months rather than being blamed for forcing the election on the people of India.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:4)
Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad: Mr Azad, it was a mistake by the Congress party to have taken shelter behind the old Nehru-Gandhi dynasty which is antithetical to democratic values.
Ghulam Nabi Azad: Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:5)
As far as the Congress is concerned, we had no hope from TN and we never claimed any seat but, definitely, it is a setback for the UF's DMK-TMC and an achievements for Jayalalitha and the BJP.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:5)
Mr Azad: About Arjun Singh. His constituency is in the neighbourhood of Betul, where the police killed 19 farmers during a peaceful rally. And the leader of the rally, Dr Sunilam, has been put behind bars althought he was peaceful while the police is going scot-free. This has angered the people in all the neighbouring constituencies and that is why the Congress party is losing.
Hussaini (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:7)
To all the people who had a chat with me: thank you all. .. It was my first internet chat..looks like I might get hooked onto it. Before it is too late, a BIG bye!
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:7)
Mallu: You see, the Congress party had offered unconditional support to the United Front in May 1996. But then, on a non-issue like the Jain commission report, it pulled down the UF government. During the election campaign, that report was never mentioned by the Congress party. So, the question is whether the intentions of the Congress party can be trusted.
Mr Sikhander Bhakt (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:8)
We are in very good shape in TN, Karnataka, Orissa. We still have to wait for the rest of the country. The trend in Maharashtra and Gujarat depends on which areas have been taken.
Ghulam Nabi Azad: Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:9)
As far as the Congress is concerned, it is a party capable of running a full term and performing. Our governments in the past have been performing governments and our experience with other political parties has been, be it '77-78, 89-90, '96-97 that these governments have neither survived their full term nor performed -- non-surviving, non-performing governments.
Mr Sikhander Bhakt (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:10)
Mr Azad: The Congress is lucky to be the No. 2 party today in the country since there is no other party which can do so. Otherwise the Cong is a party which is heading for total disintergration.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:11)
Subha: The Congress party's record during the last one-and-a-half decades has been to compete with the BJP on the Hindutva issue. It was trying hard to please the VHP from 1986 to 1992. It's government did an agreement with the VHP about the construction of the foundation of the Ram temple. In November 1989, and later when the Babri Masjid was demolished, then also their government in the Centre was totally inactive. So the Muslims have a feeling that this party cannot be trusted.
Ghulam Nabi Azad: Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:12)
Thank you very much. It was nice chatting with you. I will join the Rediff Chat again in the coming days.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:13)
Mr Sikander Bakht: It is easy for the BJP to blame the Congress party now. But the results in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Haryana, where the BJP is in power either by itself or in coalition show that the people have turned against its rule. And this should have a sobering effect on the BJP. It must realise that it has failed to give good governance in these states.
Mr Sikhander Bhakt (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:13)
Mr Azad: It is unfortunate that your party, from the word go, has not been functioning in a democratic manner. It was born of the sin of burying the original Congress in Bangalore in 1969. And after that this organistion was registered in the EC as Indian National Congress -- Indira. Democratic political parties are not named after individuals; if they are so named, it appears the party is the personal property of an individual. And so, they have been running the Congress--I under a dynastic rule.
Mr Sikhander Bhakt (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:15)
Therefore the claim of Shri Azad about running a stable government has nothing to do with a country being run by a democratic organisation. The tragedy is that they have not only put a psychological bind on Congress-I workers, but have also disrupted the thought process of ordinary citizens.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:15)
Subha: Well, the Janata Dal will be there, although with a reduce strength. It has lost because of the internal squabbles among the leaders. If it's leaders still learn their lessons and reunite, then the JD will retrieve itself and will be able to lead the nation once again.
Mr Sikhander Bhakt (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:15)
It is now that the Congress is paying the penalty of this sin.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:17)
Mallu: I am afraid that in any case there are going to be the coalition governments in the Centre for almost a decade. And unless various political parties in the country develop our coalition culture and the necessary flexibility which a coalition experiment demands. We shall have unstabl governments and any number of mid-term polls.
Mr Sikhander Bhakt (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:19)
Vishal: Of course, its amusing to hear Shri Azad making tall claims inspite of the fact that the cong is gradually disappearing from the polity of the country. The BJP is going to ropm home with a comfortable majority. ALL adverse arguments pale before the phenomenonal pace of growth of the BJP. In about a decade's time, everybody is trying to come together to stop the onward march of the BHP. It clearly shows that no individual political party is anywhere even close to the BJP's targets.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:19)
Mallu: In Karnataka, the JD leaders quarreled with each other. And that is why the JD is losing. In fact, this was their experience in 1989 and 1991 too. However, they reunited in 1993 formed a government in the state and send 16 MPs in 1996. They must learn from the mistakes that they have committed.
Mr Sikhander Bhakt (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:20)
ASK: Anyone and everyone has been making tall claims about the number of seats. I will only say that the BJP has already arrived and the people of the country have designated Shri Vajpayee as the country's prime minister.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:22)
Mr Bakht: Well, the BJP, which was making fun of other parties for making alliances, has itself stooped to make alliance with all and sundry. In fact, the difference between our alliance and the BJP alliance is that we have a common minimum programme agreed upon before the elections. And the BJP refuses to have any such programme even when it's allies wanted it. In any case, the BJP is contesting not more than 70 per cent of the seats. And it had to leave 30 per cent to it's allies.
Mr Sikhander Bhakt (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:24)
The country was divided in 1947 on the basis of the two-nation theory. That is, the history of division created two theocratic states. One Islam theocratic state exists in the form of Pakistan. But Sikhander Bakht is not living in a theocratic state. Why? Every Indian should answer this question, and my answer is that India is a secular state. Without any complaint coming from Sikhander Bakht because of the ancient ethos of this country. And the name of that ethos is Hindutva. If Hindutva were not the ethos of this country, this country would have never been a secular country.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:25)
Mr Bakht: Mr Vajpayee continues to change his ideological stances from liberalism to communalism. And from some concessions to Muslims to hate-based Hinduism. He lacks consistency and unless he decides to be consistent he can hardly prove a good prime minister.
Mr Sikhander Bhakt (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:27)
Mr Mohan: The basic difference between the partnership of the BJP is that this partnership has occured much before the polls. We entered the electoral fray on the basis of seat-sharing. So the BJP's alliance partnership is very different from those of the rest of the political parties in the country. Even today, some parties speak of post-election alliances. Not because they have anything in common, forget about the CMP. They totally disagree with each other on certain basic problems. It is only a negative urge, without any common factor, which gets them to make statements concerning how to keep the BJP out. They don't have anything positive to tell the people of the country.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:28)
Mr Bakht: It is forgotten that India had various cultural streams, including Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Sikhism and Islam. And amongst the Hindus also, there have been great reformers who have battled against all kind of evil practices, like untouchability and communal prejudices. The BJP's Hindutva is contradictory to this entire liberal tradition. Why does the BJP emphasise only 'Ram', to the exclusion of Krishna, Shiva, Lord Buddha, Christ, Kabir, Nanak and others.
Mr Sikhander Bhakt (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:31)
Surender, my dear friend, I consider you to be too rational to be putting such irrational questions. What is communalism, will you tell me? Is it only confined to communities on the basis of faith? Or does the politics of division of Indian society on the basis of caste also take the country to communalism?
Also, the politics of forward and backward Hindus, which divides the whole fabric of this country -- will you call that communalism? If yes, I throw the ball in your court. I would also like to ask you, Surender, what is the BJP's communalism? DO you have a single piece of evidence? Don't make it a matter of mere cacophonic sloganism.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:32)
Mr Bakht: Mr Bakht, you are forgetting that the Akali Dal, the AIADMK, the Biju Janata Dal, the Lok Shakti and the Samata Party have clearly disowned your agenda of so-called 'Hindutva'. They do not agree with you on the deletion of Article 370, nor on the uniform civil code or even on the issue of the Ram temple. On the last issue, the Shiv Sena disagrees with you.
So, what kind of government will an alliance of such parties provide? As for the UF, our achievements show what we have done together, namely, we have freed the electronic media from government control, we have federalised the polity much more adequately. We have provided food to the poor people at half the market prices and we have given large concessions to the peasantry.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:35)
Mr Bakht: The difference between the communalism and the issue of caste is that the communalism promotes hatred amongst communities. And our plank of social justice relate into caste tries to remove inquitous relationship and there by promotes harmony amongst castes. So, the distinction between the hatred and the harmony must be understood.
Mr Sikhander Bhakt (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:35)
Lovely, Surender. Primarily, I feel sad when you place faith and culture in the same bracket. The BJP believes in one country, one people and one culture. Can you claim that the culture of an Indian Muslim is the same as that of an Arab Muslim? Kaume authan se banti hain, mazahib se nahi. The BJP believes in respecting the faith of everybody, but also believes that because of his or her birth in the lap of the same motherland, every Indian of whatever faith is an Indian. Hindutva is not merely a religious faith, it is supposed to be something more and different from religious faith alone. And the BJP has no intention of imposing anyone's faith on anyone else.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:37)
Milind B: Mr Gujral did not take the BJP's support. The Akali Party was keen on supporting him and the BJP wanted to oppose him. But then the BJP developed funk and did not put up it's candidate. Because it was afraid of annoying the people of Punjab.
Mr Sikhander Bhakt (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:37)
Thank you for this question. The country today is faced with innumerable basic problems. They will all have to be dealt with right away. If we take up the cause of solving unemployment, it does not mean that we can demote or postpone the problem of tackling poverty. Therefore there are a number of important questions that the country is facing today. They will all need our attention right away.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:40)
Mr Bakht: So, why don't you call it Indian or Bharatiya, why do you insist on calling it 'Hindutva' unless you want to appeal to the baser instincts of the people?
Mr Sikhander Bhakt (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:41)
Mr Mohan: Again your explanation given for the division of society on the basis of caste is unfortunate, because the problems are national problems. And to solve these national problems you don't have to divide the society. Social justice, yes, every Indian deserves to be given social justice. Why should the national fabric be divided on this laudable issue?
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:42)
Ali: THere are reformers in Islam. The entire WAhabi movement was a movement of reform. Sir Syed Ahmed also was a social reformer and so were many others.
Mr Sikhander Bhakt (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:43)
The country today is passing through a phase of darkness. A divided disintergrating polity based on fragmenting the society itself. BJP is the only hope for the country under the present trying circumstances. BJP will certainly bring glittering light in this darkness and restore the national dignity of India.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:47)
Mr Bakht: The issue of caste, including that of untouchability the very low social status of certain castes and the resultant economic deprivation of these castes, has to be tackled to promote equality in society.
In fact, in Islam also there are Ashrafs and Ajlafs. And there has to be an effort to provide social justice to the Ajlafs. Amongst Christians too there are Dalit Christians who also deserve social justice. The issue of social equality is a very important issue in an iniquitous and hierarchal caste system. Along with this, the patriarchical system, which is based on gender inquality, has also to be tackled.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:49)
Tejovkias: THe UP government was not dismissed by the UF, it was dismissed by the governor. It may be recalled that about a few months back, the governor had done the same thing, but the UF government in the Centre restored the BJP government.
Pranab Mukherjee, Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:53)
The trends so far indicate that we are not doing well. The BJP and allies are leading ahead.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:54)
Ali: When the JD and the UF talk of gender equality and when they want 33 per cent of the seats in the legislature to be reserved for women, it only shows that we have been fully committed to social reforms all along. As for the dominance of the mullahs, there are a large number of intellectuals and social reformers in the Muslim community who are battling it out with them.
We have only said that the reform must come from within the Muslim community. We do not want to create a situation in which interference by the government hurts the Muslim minority psyche. It needs to be remembered that Muslims in other countries have brought about largescale reforms in their social practices.
Pranab Mukherjee, Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:54)
So far as the formation of the government is concerned, I am not sure whether we will have the adequate number to form the government. That question does not arise since we are trailing behind the BJP. With regard to the organisational responsibility, I am sure that Mrs Gandhi will play a very important role.
Pranab Mukherjee, Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:56)
Yes, in Maharashtra and Rajasthan we had done well. But we expect it to do well in certain states. In Kerala also we are doing well.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 7:58)
Milind B: The issue is not what a particular community calls this country. This country has been known as India, as 'Bharat' and as 'Hindustan' also. In fact, our famous song composed by Dr Mohammad Iqbal talks of 'Hindustan', and this song is recited on most official and unofficial occasions. And all of us say 'Hindustan', and there is no problem in it.
Pranab Mukherjee, Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:0)
We are quite specific. Our support to the UF government was to ensure that there would be no elections within weeks. In the 1996 Lok Sabha elections, the people's verdict was so fractured that we could not form a government. But at the same time we cannot forget that the UF constitutents were our main opponents in states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa etc. This dichotomy has prevented us from playing a big role, either as a ruling party or as an opposition party.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:1)
Mr Pranab Mukherjee: You forget that you have an elected President and an elected working committee. Unfortunately, your party depends more on dynasty than on democracy. And this will be the further undoing of your party. You must restore internal party democracy rather than follow the dynastic principle, which is monarchic.
Pranab Mukherjee, Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:2)
This is your individual assessment. I do not agree with your assessment.
Pranab Mukherjee, Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:3)
No our calculations have not gone totally wrong. But in some states we had expected better results.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:3)
Mr Mukherjee: In that case, why did the Congress party promise unconditional support to the UF? Was it not entirely hypocritical as the events have now proved...
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:5)
Milind B: The problem is that 'Hindutva' relates to a particular community. And the BJP has further narrowed its definition by talking of certain issues which hurt other communities. If India, Bharat or Hindustan are the names of our country, why not stick to these names. And the adjectives derived from them.
Rediff Team, Congress HQ: (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:5)
That was Mr Pranab Mukherjee who stepped into the Rediff station in the Congress office and who said the Congress party has not well in the elections.
Rediff Team, Congress HQ: (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:8)
The results seem to have demoralised the Congress camp in Delhi . Mr Mukherjee also looked sad that his party hadn't fared as well as it had expected.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:10)
RR: The UF has placed before the nation a very concrete programme of governance. We depended on various constituents of the Front to popularise it in their own areas of influence. At the same time, a number of joint rallies were also held. The difference is that we are not a monolith like the BJP and the Congress are. And, I think, in a democracy, it is better not to be a monolith. The "Internet' will not reach the common Indian voter and we are concerned that we secure their confidence.
Rediff Team, Congress HQ: (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:13)
There is now an air of defeat in the Congress office. Not many top leaders have visited the party office at 24, Akbar Road. Only Sharad Pawar, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Pranab Mukherjee have come for a few minutes to the party office. Interestingly, the party president Sitaram Kesri did not make any appearance at 24, Akbar Road today.
Rediff Team@BJP HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:14)
The euphoria here has given away to some sobering thoughts: What has gone wrong in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan? If it were not for Karnataka and the totally unexpected gains in Tamil Nadu, the BJP would have cut a sorry figure by now...
Rediff Team@BJP HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:16)
Senior leaders say the Rajasthan debacle would certainly have its effect on the coming assembly elections. Moreover, reveals a top leader, "If this is the situation in a state which is so close to the centre of power, it will definitely reflect on the central government."
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:18)
Dandva: All Indians, whether Hindu or Muslims or other community are proud of the Indian culture. We need not talk only about Hindus or Hindu culture. In a pluralistic society like ours, we also must not forget that the Hindu culture, like other cultures, has had certain negative and retrogessive tendencies, like untouchability and sati.
MR SURENDRA MOHAN: (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:20)
EVERYONE: IT WAS A NICE EXCHANGE OF VIEWS AND I HAVE GREATLY ENJOYED IT. I AM GRATEFUL TO ALL OF YOU FOR THE SAME. AND I WISH THAT THE VALUES OF SECULARISM, WHICH ENCOMPASS FRATERNITY AND JUSTICE, SHALL TRIUMPH. GOODBYE..
Prem Panicker (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:26)
Meanwhile, CHAT ALERT!!!! Congress joint secretary S C Vats will shortly be with you, guys... stay tuned....
Dr S C Vats (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:28)
In South India, Mrs Gandhi hasn't had many meetings, apart from one where she paid homage at Sriperumbudur and another at Salem. The Congress always had an alliance in Tamil Nadu. It is just for the first time that the Cong is making it on its own.
Rediff Team@BJP HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:28)
Rajesh here. Maharashtra is disturbing the leaders here. If, in any case, BJP is unable to come to power at the Centre the party fears the Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra could even be dismissed by the central government...
Rediff Team@BJP HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:30)
A non-BJP central government would first of all make the Srikrishna commission report the issue for the dismissal of the government...
Dr S C Vats (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:30)
Yes, it's a sympathy wave for Jayalalitha. The Tamil Nadu people seem to have over-sympathised with a lady who seemed to have been wronged in the public eye.
Dr S C Vats (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:31)
Well, it is a clear vote for the Nehru-Gandhi family, which has all through led the nation from the freedom struggle, providing a stable government.
Dr S C Vats (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:34)
The Congress has always been for overall development and for self-reliance. In the event of our forming the government, we shall continue with the economic reforms as set out by Dr Manmohan Singh.
Rediff Team@BJP HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:34)
Even if the BJP manages to get to power the scene wouldn't be very different, the leaders here feel. The outcry for the publication of the Srikrishna commission report, which went into the Bombay riot case, will be a bigger embarrasment for the Sena-BJP than Jain commission report was for the DMK.
Dr S C Vats (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:36)
I think the Congress manifesto states that we will start programmes like family planning, literacy and afforestation to provide more jobs to the uneducated unemployed, so that not only does it meet the national objectives but at the same time it also gainfully engages our youth in nation-building.
Dr S C Vats (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:40)
demagogue1: I am a doctor by profession and I don't believe in sycophancy. The Nehru-Gandhi family has been symbolic of India's planned development, having made new strides in science and space. The development is not up to the mark, and it is not an ideal situation in a country like India. I think population growth has been neutralised to a great extent. The country has made great progress the last 50 years, be it in providing educational infrastructure, basic health facilities, drinking water facilities and road and rail transport.
Dr S C Vats (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:42)
Psmith: Do you suggest that India hasn't made any progress? If I list out the number of achievements, it might take me days on the Internet; it being poll eve, I wish I could get back to you some other day.
Rediff Team@BJP HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:43)
An aside -- there has been sudden and loud sloganeering among the BJP workers, "Raj Tilak ke karo tayari... Aa rahe hain Atal Bihari."
We rushed out of the little room alloted to us, only to find a small group if the BJP workers staging a cameo for one of the TV camera crews. A pep-up effort, if you will, in the cold night air. In fact, the sloganeering is still going on. But whether this enthusiasm holds till tomorrow remains to be seen.
Dr S C Vats (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:47)
Psmith: This phenomenon of corruption seems to be everywhere, and no Western European country is an exception. There have been frequent changes of government in Italy and also in Japan. It is only since 1977-79 and 1996-97, that there has been instability at the Centre. As you yourself acknowledge, Cong governments have survived their full term, that is, five years. Mr N Rao is very much a Congressman and continues to be in the Cong think-tank, which he also doesn't deny.
Dr S C Vats (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:49)
vaachi: A country as diverse as India is very difficult to manage as well as govern. The Congress and its ideology alone can take the credit for a stable government. The countries that you are referring to do not have a pluralistic society or so much regional diversity as is witnessed in my country.
Dr S C Vats (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:53)
murari: Well, in a democracy as big as India, we don't mind giving way to others. Not that we haven't done in the past, but simply running away from challenges is not the Congress's cup of tea.
George Fernandes (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:55)
Hello everyone: I am ready for your questions though I am bit tired after campaigning.
Dr S C Vats (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:56)
Psmith: You are perhaps abusing the Internet. I wish you could correspond with me in detail so that I can reply to each and every query to your satisfaction. Thank you for being generous with your invectives.
prem panicker (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:57)
Meanwhile, Ganesh Nadar spoke to Gopinath Munde, deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, at Mantralaya just now. Munde told Nadar that the result in Maharashtra is not, repeat, not, a referendum on the state government; he said this election has thrown up surprising results like the wipeout of the DMK-TMC in Tamil Nadu, that the result in Maharashtra was similar in character.
Munde said, further, that the BJP had got around 34 per cent of the votes last time, that they had never thought they could win most of the seats this time; they were only interested in improving their vote share and they believe they have done it this time.
George Fernandes (Mon Mar 2 1998 8:57)
REDIFF: ANY NEWS ABOUT BIHAR?? I WANT TO KNOW URGENTLY.
prem panicker (Mon Mar 2 1998 9:0)
Good evening, Mr Fernandes, nice to see you on here. We are getting you the Bihar details; give us just a second.
V Gangadhar (Mon Mar 2 1998 9:1)
Very little info from Bihar. Early indications are BJP and allies are doing well.
Rediff @ Congress HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 9:1)
That was Dr S C Vats, joint secretary of the Congress. He has just left on a very optimistic note... As an aside... He thought the net was very stimulating.
prem panicker (Mon Mar 2 1998 9:3)
MR FERNANDES: Only eight trends are available at this point -- the BJP is leading in six, the CPI-ML in one and the SP in one. Sorry, but information from Bihar is harder to get than straight answers in a political chat! :-)
Rediff team@Congress office (Mon Mar 2 1998 10:0)
It's 10 pm at 24, Akbar road. The staff at the offices in the AICC complex have wound up for the day. Most of the TV crews have also left. A lone television in the ground outside has a few hangers on around it. Tomorrow should see a lot of activity here with the picture becoming clearer. On that note, we at the Congress HQ sign off for the day. Will be back online tomorrow morning.
prem panicker (Mon Mar 2 1998 10:2)
Rediff-Congress>> Thanks, guys, for a great job from there. Hope to see you bright and early tomorrow.
Prem Panicker (Mon Mar 2 1998 10:6)
There was this rather interesting conversation with Sharad Pawar just now -- wherein the Maratha strongman, riding high on a good performance in his home state, indicated that talks had already begun between the Congress and UF in a bid to get UF support for a Congress bid to form the next government. What is the clearest indication of the way things are shaping up is that Pawar admitted that they have been having talks even with the DMK, traditionally a party with an anti-Congress mindset.
Prem Panicker (Mon Mar 2 1998 10:7)
What this seems to mean is that the BJP, plus allies, needs to get as close to the magic figure of a simple majority as possible. And while on that, the position now is that the BJP and allies are on 195, Congress and allies on 139, UF on 77 and Others, 10.
Rediff @ CONG HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 10:12)
Najma Heptullah and Pranab Mukherjee have indicated that the Congress will look for an alliance with the UF. More will be known about this later.
Rediff @ Cyber Cafe, New Delhi (Mon Mar 2 1998 10:18)
GEORGE FERNANDES TOLD REDIFF ON THE NET A LITTLE WHILE AGO THAT HE HAS ALREADY CHALKED UP A COMMON MINIMUM PROGRAMME. HE SAID SPECIFICALLY THAT IN THE CMP, TWO THINGS HAVE NOT BEEN COMPROMISED WITH THE BJP'S STANCE ON THE RAM MANDIR IN AYODHYA AND ARTICLE 370.
Rediff Team@BJP HQ (Mon Mar 2 1998 10:18)
Things seem to be winding up around here, too, except for the television crews which are still going strong...
Rediff @ Cyber Cafe, New Delhi (Mon Mar 2 1998 10:20)
GEORGE FERNANDES TOLD REDIFF ON THE NET A LITTLE WHILE AGO THAT MUSLIMS NEED NOT FEAR THE BJP-LED GOVERNMENT SINCE BJP-RULED STATES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SAFE FOR MUSLIMS.
|Election Day Results Chat, Continued|
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