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|October 10, 1999||
Vajpayee to be sworn-in as PM on Wednesday
Atal Bihari Vajpayee is to be sworn-in as prime minister on October 13 at 10.31 AM.
The emergence of the National Democratic Alliance as the ruling coalition is ''one of the most important political developments in the history of independent India,'' Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee asserted today after being unanimously elected leader of the NDA parliamentary party.
''It augurs well for the future of India. It strengthens India's unity and integrity. It also celebrates our rich diversity,'' Vajpayee said, addressing the newly-elected MPs of the alliance.
The Telugu Desam Party is ''not joining'' the NDA. This was stated by the prime minister in reply to questions from the media. Asked if it would not lead to ''inherent instability,'' Vajpayee said, ''I don't think so.''
Earlier, Vajpayee's name was proposed by NDA convenor George Fernandes and seconded by Home Minister L K Advani. Ten sets of nominations, by various NDA constituents, were submitted, proposing Vajpayee's name as their leader. The BJP general secretary M Venkaiah Naidu, who was appointed the returning officer, declared Vajpayee elected unopposed.
Later all the leaders of the NDA felicitated and garlanded Vajpayee on his election. They included Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, Prakash Singh Badal, Naveen Patnaik, Mamta Banerjee, Vaiko, Dr Ramdoss, and Om Prakash Chautala.
Parliament House, including its Central Hall where the NDA members met to elect Vajpayee, was tastefully decorated for the occasion.
The leaders of the NDA are expected to call on President K R Narayanan tomorrow to formally convey about the election of Vajpayee as their leader.
Emphasising the need for formulating ''bold'' policies and programmes, the prime minister said many of the old policies which may have served a certain purpose in the past ''have now become hurdles for faster economic growth.''
Hinting at drastic changes in the policies for economic development, Vajpayee said: '' we should look to the new century with a new approach. The common theme that binds the national, state-level and local issues is speedy development. The general elections have shown that there was a tremendous hunger among the people all over the country for faster and equitable development.'' To achieve this goal, he said the opposition parties should play a constructive role.
The prime minister admitted that the hike in diesel prices would put a burden on the public. But the government had no option, he clarified.
Meanwhile, Vajpayee is today understood to have held a series of consultations with the alliance partners on allocation of ministerial berths.
Having emerged politically stronger after the election, Vajpayee has made it clear that he was not inclined to give in to pressure.
Sending a strong message that the decision relating to allocation of portfolios will be his own, Vajpayee said he would be guided by the merit of the person concerned.
The prime minister is, however, utilising the experience and services of his principal secretary Brajesh Mishra and some other senior bureaucrats in the cabinet secretariat.
Sources said the prime minister is also likely to undertake an exercise for a possible rearrangement of various departments under key ministries to accommodate as many deserving members of Parliament in his new council of ministers.
Vajpayee said that due to the mid-term poll ''our work was interrupted and agenda remained incomplete. Now the people have given us the mandate to complete the agenda of development, and also undertake new initiatives for all-round national renewal.''
''Let no one have any doubt about our ability or our determination to carry out this mandate,'' he added.
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