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Raje embarrassed at PM's rally
Onkar Singh in Jaipur |
November 28, 2003 22:41 IST
Vasundhara Raje Scindia, the Bharatiya Janata Party's chief ministerial candidate in Rajasthan and head of the BJP unit in the state, faced acute embarrassment at an election rally at Ram Niwas Bagh in Jaipur today when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee simply failed to mention her in his speech.
Scindia was sharing the dais with the prime minister and other top BJP politicians of the state at the well-attended public meeting. But Vajpayee ended his speech without saying a word about his party's local leader.
Some BJP leaders retrieved the situation by hurrying up to Vajpayee and reminding him about Scindia. The prime minister returned to the microphone and appealed to the audience to vote for the BJP, which would give the state its first woman chief minister.
Earlier, Vajpayee told his listeners that the BJP is "a party with a difference", pointing out that he did not hesitate to demand the resignations of ministers the moment corruption charges were levelled against them. "George Fernandes resigned from his post after charges were made against him," he reminded the crowd. "Lately, Dilip Singh Judeo also resigned on his own when some charges were made against him.
"But the Congress does not follow this tradition," he told the audience amidst applause. "One of their chief ministers, who is involved in the forgery of documents, refuses to resign and even opposes investigations against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Charges are being levelled against the country's premier investigating agency!"
Vajpayee also enumerated the various developmental projects his government has undertaken. Kashmir, he said, would be linked to the rest of the country with high-speed roads and a rail network.
He lashed out at the Congress for not supporting his government's initiative to link the country's rivers and end the water shortage in several parts of India. "When we were in opposition," he claimed, "we lauded the central government whenever it did something good. But the Congress party does not believe in doing the same."
The prime minister stressed the need to bring about major changes in the Representation of the Peoples Act to eliminate the use of black money in elections. "Are the candidates spending money according to the directive of the Election Commission? How many vehicles are being hired by the candidates? I have lost count," he remarked.
Vajpayee said the state elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Mizoram would be a prelude to the general election next year.
The prime minister's much awaited rally was scheduled to be held in the morning. Then it was shifted to 4pm. Eventually he addressed the meeting after 6pm.
Journalists had a harrowing time reaching the venue. The state police had cordoned off almost all roads leading to the Ram Niwas Bagh hours before Vajpayee was scheduled to arrive. Even those with security passes were forced to walk a few miles to reach the venue.