TDP joining BJP govt cannot be ruled out: Vajpayee
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not rule out the possibility of the Telugu Desam Party joining the government.
Addressing the media in Lucknow, where he arrived on Sunday to spend his first day after winning the trust vote in the Lok Sabha, he said, ''Talks are going on with them in this regard and we will only be too glad if they joined us.''
Thanking the people of Lucknow for electing him, Vajpayee said, ''So far I have not had any discussion with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah on this issue (of the National Conference joining the government). But I must express my gratitude to him for abstaining from the voting during the trust vote.''
Announcing his priority list, the prime minister talked about the creation of three new states and promised to give India ''the much desired economic independence which is still a distant dream even after 50 years of Independence''.
Expressing deep concern over the ''poor state of economy inherited by the new government'', Vajapayee said, ''There is
still hope of salvage and I am sure we will be able to bring about
qualitative improvement in the state of our economy.''
Without spelling out the details, he added, ''Certain important decisions with respect to the economic condition had been hanging fire for sometime. But now, the time has come to take these decisions expeditiously.''
The prime minister disclosed that the creation of three new states -- Uttaranchal (Uttar Pradesh), Vananchal (Bihar) and Chattisgarh (Madhya Pradesh) -- would be done ''as early as possible''.
''I do not believe in setting up a commission or any other body to go into the issue,'' he said. ''For, it had already been discussed threadbare at several fora and the demand was unanimous where the question of these three states was concerned.''
On being asked what he would do about similar demands being raised in other parts of the country, Vajpayee replied, ''There is no unanimity about the demand, where the other states are
concerned. And, in any case, I will not allow these to come in the
way of the formation of the three states that are on the anvil.''
Referring to the oft-repeated demand by certain political groups
against the misuse of the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, he declared, ''I am going to ask the home ministry to review the cases of all those who continue to remain behind bars under the provisions of the law, even after it had been scrapped.''
Claiming that all the uncertainty has now come to an
end, he said the BJP-led government is here to stay and provide
stability and good governance to the nation. ''The BJP and its allies have emerged as the biggest front. Unlike the United Front, we are not dependent on any big party's outside support.''
On whether he was working out any special package for Jammu and Kashmir in association with Dr Abdullah, he remarked, ''We will ensure that Jammu and Kashmir will continue to receive whatever they had been receiving so far.''
Reiterating his views on the contentious Ayodhya issue, he said,
''I would want to resolve the issue through consensus and
for that we would like everyone to sit together and find
In reply to a question, Vajpayee said, ''There are several
issues in the Indian Constitution that needed to be reviewed.''
Asked about the new government's nuclear policy, he said, ''We would like to keep our nuclear option open.''
Expressing displeasure at the increased VIP security that often caused undue harassment to the common public, the prime minister disclosed, ''We have already put the home ministry
on the job and the whole exercise is being reviewed... I am personally not in favour of all this and I will see to it that the extent of present security is reduced and that the VIP movement does not disrupt normal life of ordinary citizens.''
Vajpayee also addressed a public meeting at Begum Hazrat Mahal Park, where he was welcomed by enthusiastic crowds with blowing of conch shells and bursting of fireworks. Slogans like -- ''Ujjawal Bharat ki karo taiyyari, aa rahe hai Atal Bihari''
(prepare for a bright and prosperous India; Atal Bihari
is now here) -- were also raised. He was given a standing ovation by tens of thousands of people while two Sahara Airlines helicopters showered rose petals over the sprawling venue.
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