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Gujarat riots a cause of defeat: Vajpayee
June 12, 2004 15:45 IST
Last Updated: June 12, 2004 16:13 IST
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today admitted for the first time that the Gujarat riots were one of the reasons for the Bharatiya Janata Party's defeat in the recent Lok Sabha election.
"It is very difficult to say what are all the reasons for the [BJP's] defeat in the elections... but one impact of the violence was we lost the elections," he told reporters on his arrival in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, for a week-long sojourn.
He was asked whether the BJP lost the elections due to the Gujarat riots.
Asked whether the BJP mishandled the Gujarat issue, Vajpayee said, "That was not wrong. It was an incident which could have further aggravated emotions."
He said the people's sentiments during the Gujarat riots were exploited by the Opposition. "They (Opposition) tried to reap political benefit out of it, but I don't blame them. This is politics and such things happen," he said.
Vajpayee said whatever happened in Gujarat was unfortunate and had been condemned. "I am confident the people of the country have decided that such a blood-bath will not be allowed to take place anywhere in future." He also said it was necessary to take steps to prevent such incidents from recurring.
Asked why he did not become the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, the former prime minister said it was good that L K Advani has taken up the responsibility. "I was the leader earlier, now it is Advani. We share our work and responsibilities."
To a question whether he would become prime minister again, he said, "I do not know what will happen then. Sonia Gandhi is not the prime minister, but the Congress chief. That has not affected her work in any way."