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2004 moment of truth for BJP: Advani
M D Riti in Bangalore |
March 13, 2004 13:44 IST
"Year 2004 will be the Bharatiya Janata Party's moment of truth in Karnataka," declared Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani on Saturday in Bangalore.
Advani's 'Bharat Uday Yatra' reached Bangalore last night. In the morning he left for Nelamangala, accompanied by senior BJP leaders from Karnataka, including the party's state unit chief Ananth Kumar and former presidents B S Yediyurappa and K Eashwarappa.
Praising Vajpayee for his vision and commitment to nation building, Advani said: "Vajpayee has been the tallest leader in the BJP right from the beginning. I am confident that he will be the next prime minister of India."
Is Vajpayee BJP's brand then?
"Yes, but that's nothing new," he said. "We did it for the first time 35 years ago, when we projected him as the chief minister of UP. We even got an advertising agency to do our publicity way back then. This is all because we are communicating with the masses and its far easier to communicate a personality than an idea. Vajpayee is a true democrat who has never imposed his views on the party. All decisions are taken collectively."
Admitting that Godhra was reprehensible, Advani said: "Vajpayee, the whole of the BJP and I all believe that if Godhra had not happened, the riots in Gujarat would not have taken place. The subsequent killings were also very wrong. Gujarat is the only blemish on the NDA's otherwise spotless track record. The police firing and killings that took place there was indefensible."
He was quick to draw a parallel to Akshar Dham in Gujarat, which was attacked by terrorists, but had no ensuing riots. "That incident too was handled excellently by the Modi Government," he said. "Modi saw to it that no incident took place there. The earlier allegations that Modi was a party to everything that happened in Gujarat were baseless."
Advani complimented S M Krishna on dissolving the assembly in Karnataka, paving the way for simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections. "This is how it used to be until 1970," he said. "1967 was the last simultaneous election. Now, every year we have a general election or a mini general election. Political parties must try to get back to the synchronised system."
Indulging in a bit of Congress-bashing, he said: "It was a very good party many years ago. Now it is moving in the wrong direction, and it has no future because it is a prisoner of the dynastic concept."
On the approaching general election, he said: "They will be like the elections soon after independence, when it was a foregone conclusion that the Congress would come to power with Nehru as prime minister. The BJP will form the government again, with Vajpayee as prime minister."