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|November 25, 1998||
Vajpayee hints at mid-term poll, finds 'situation pregnant with possibilities'
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee does not rule out the possibility of a mid-term poll. He gave an indication to this effect at a media conference in Lucknow, at the end of a day's visit to his political constituency.
Asked if he could foresee the possibility of a mid-term poll, especially in the light of trends shown by the exit poll in Delhi and the three states where assembly election results were expected within the next three days, he said, "The situation is pregnant with many possibilities." Without going into much detail he went on to add, "It is a little early to say anything, let the final results of the election come, then only would it be appropriate to speak on the subject."
However, in the same vein he admitted that the trends that have come out so far in the exit poll have been "disheartening". In reply to another question, he attributed "several reasons for this downward trend," and declined to accept that "price rise alone was the main issue in the assembly election."
Vajpayee virtually seemed resigned to his party's defeat in at least two of the four states that went to the polls. Visibly agitated over a pointed query, whether he would have the moral right to rule the nation in case the assembly poll results went against his party, he shot back, "Tell me, how do I lose my moral right to rule?" He said, "No matter what the results, these will not have any bearing on the fate of our government at the Centre, but of course we will accept the results with all humility."
He, however, hastened to add, "Once the election results are out, we will hold a meeting of the central coordination committee to decide our future course of action." He repeatedly parried a query about the possibility of any change of political equations at the Centre once the assembly poll results were declared.
About the on-going tussle between him and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, who has threatened not to allow the Pakistani cricket team to play in India, the prime minister said, "We are in touch with him and since talks are on, I would not like to make any comment, but I am sure there will be no hurdles in their way."
He categorically ruled out the question of making Saraswati Vandana and recitation of the Vande Mataram mandatory in Uttar Pradesh government- owned schools. "Neither has any such formal decision been taken nor would I be in favour of any such decision," he said. He however pointed out, "Vande Mataram has been sung for years at all major events including in Parliament and nobody has ever objected to it. Sure enough, all this heat and dust over this is politically motivated." He felt the same about Saraswati Vandana, but was clearly of the view that "there was no need to make it compulsory."
Referring to the recent 'raid' on the home of Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi aka Ali Mian, chief of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Vajpayee said "it has nothing to do with either any agency of the central or state government. I am sure the high-level probe ordered by the UP government will bring out the truth. As for me, I can smell a political conspiracy behind the whole episode as is apparent from the sequence of events."
Asked about the government's sudden soft line after the initial onslaught by the central authorities against Reliance Industries, the prime minister clarified, "Nothing incriminating was found in the raids carried out by the CBI."
In reply to another question, he was emphatic that "the question of imposing President's rule in Bihar was still alive, but a final decision on making a fresh recommendation to the President would be taken after fresh deliberations only."
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