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|January 23, 1998||
Vajpayee promises to change governor's roleR R Nair in Varanasi
Atal Bihari has promised a new policy to deframe a governor's role in state politics.
Avoiding all the contentious issues that are on the Bharatiya Janata Party's agenda, Vajpayee said his party has become so strong now that it has found friends and allies from all over the country, from Kanyakumari to Jammu and Kashmir.
Vajpayee began his UP tour from Gorakhpur and then stopped over at former BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi's constituency, Allahabad, before addressing the public meeting in Varanasi.
Though the 50,000 strong crowd was responsive, Vajpayee refrained from any personalised attacks on the Congress's star campaigner, Sonia Gandhi.
In a speech which made no reference to the Bofors scandal, Vajpayee said cleaning the system of corruption and building up the nation were his party's priorities.
Inflation, particularly the rising price of onions, was referred to, but building a temple on the disputed site in Varanasi, just a couple of kilometres away, was not mentioned.
Justifying the jumbo cabinet in UP, Vajpayee hit out against UP Governor Romesh Bhandari and said, "The role of a governor has to be defined and we will do it once we come to power."
Vajpayee's choice of eastern UP as the kickoff ground for his UP campaign is seen as an effort to strengthen his party in this area.
Though the BJP is far ahead of its adversaries, Defence Minister Mulayam Singh's Samajwadi Party has a strong presence here.
It is also believed that a section of other backward castes which had identified with the Bahujan Samaj Party earlier, had switched its allegiance to the SP.
Moreover, SP general secretary Amar Singh's overtures to the upper caste Thakurs had at least borne fruit in roping in a few big landlords.
Thus, projecting a statesman-like image and skirting all controversial issues, Vajpayee strove to give the impression of a senior leader who should be acceptable to all.
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