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Vajpayee warns against raising provocative issues during poll campaigns
February 21, 2003 13:16 IST
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Friday cautioned against raising provocative issues during poll campaigns, saying they hurt democracy even as he denied playing the Hindutva card in Himachal Pradesh.
"Raising provocative issues will be a hurdle for democracy, and will not strengthen it," Vajpayee told a news conference in Shimla on the second day of his visit to the state for the Bharatiya Janata Party's poll campaign.
Reiterating that the BJP wanted temple to be constructed at Ayodhya, he asked the Congress to clarify its stand on the
issue. He said there was no use calling an all party meeting to hammer out a consensus on this issue as the 'differences are evident'.
Vajpayee said the demand for a ban cow slaughter was an old one and a private member's bill had already been
introduced on this issue in the parliament.
He said the commission set up by the government on this issue had also recommended a ban on cow slaughter. "If cow
slaughter is not banned, it would be difficult to protect the cows and bullocks of quality breed," he added.
He said it was not an election but an economic issue.
Vajpayee said he was forced to raise the beef issue in his campaign speech in Mandi on Thursday to rebut baseless allegations leveled by the Youth Congress in its posters in Madhya Pradesh.
"If the Youth Congress had not indulged in this slander campaign, I would not have brought up the issue," he said.
Vajpayee said in his election rally yesterday that the Congress party's “malicious and baseless propaganda” could arouse public sentiments.
He also counselled that political parties should refrain from mudslinging during elections.
The prime minister said elections should be fought on the basis of principles, and all parties, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, had an equal responsibility in this regard.
"Merely having election laws are not enough," he said adding that there was already a code of conduct to be followed by political parties.
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