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BJP aggressive on Ram Sethu issue
Sunil Gatade and Santosh K Joy in Bhopal | September 21, 2007 17:12 IST
Apparently sensing mid-term elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday turned aggressive on the Ram Sethu issue demanding immediate dismissal of all Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam ministers at the Centre if Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi failed to withdraw "blasphemous" remarks on Lord Ram.
In the absence of an unwell Atal Bihari Vajpayee, there was talk of the leadership issue, but there were no clear cut answers.
The party which gained power eleven years ago for the first time on the back of a 'Ram Lehar,' (wave) alleged that the affidavit in the Ram Sethu case has "established the governments anti-Hindu mindset" while it dubbed the Sachar committee report on Muslims as one "sowing the seeds of communal divisions."
Party chief Rajnath Singh in his presidential address at the party's national executive which commenced in Bhopal on Friday expressed the party's commitment towards "further strengthening the National Democratic Alliance," even as the party spokesman gave broad hints of the party-led alliance getting new allies from "down south", a clear indication to Jayalalithaa-led All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
Vajpayee is not attending this meeting due to health reasons and the focus has automatically shifted to the issue of leadership of the NDA.
In a letter to party colleagues, Vajpayee said he was not able to attend due to ill health, but was confident he would be "in the midst" of partymen soon.
He said the meeting is being held in an "era of transition" as there was political instability and uncertainty at the Centre.
He underlined the need for unitedly facing the challenges ahead, but steered clear of the leadership issue.
In his letter Vajpayee quoted from his famous poem, Aaur phir se diya jalae (Let us once again light the lamp), but one sentence from it led to lot of questions at the party's briefing on whether the former prime minister has complained
Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad was subjected to a lot of questions on the leadership issue and his refrain was that "all this things are in the media. There is no confusion in the party. Both (Vajpayee and Advani) are tall, respected leaders. At an appropriate time an announcement will be made."
He spoke in similar vein when asked whether there was also any "third contender" for the prime ministership, a clear reference to Rajnath Singh.
Prasad insisted that the issue of leadership was not on the agenda of the meeting.
Both Advani and Rajnath Singh, who arrived together for the three-day meet, kept away from the issue in spite of persistent questioning.