Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Saturday asked all political parties and organisations not to incite communal passions during the election campaign in Gujarat, recalling 'inappropriate' events that had occurred in Godhra and elsewhere in the state.
At a luncheon hosted by him for journalists, Vajpayee was asked, in the context of his statement on Friday that Godhra should not be an election issue, as to what the issues should be during the campaign, he responded, "Maintenance of peace and communal harmony."
He added his statement had clearly mentioned what should not be done in Gujarat.
Vajpayee expressed confidence that the Bharatiya Janata Party would win next month's election in Gujarat, but refused to hazard a guess about the number of seats it would capture.
Asked whether a win would be a triumph for state Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Vajpayee replied, "It will be a victory for the BJP, which includes Modi and others."
Asked if force would be used to stop the yatra, Vajpayee responded with a cryptic, "Everybody will carry out their duties."
Vajpayee fended off questions on controversies surrounding Modi and the VHP with his characteristic humour. Asked if he would campaign in Gujarat, the prime minister said he would do so 'if invited'.
When a journalist asked whether the prime minister needed an invitation to campaign, he laughingly said that he would be invited if things were not going well for the party. "So, if you go there to campaign, we shall know that things are not going well for BJP," a journalist told him amid laughter, in which Vajpayee also joined.
To a question about heavy deployment of paramilitary forces in Gujarat, Vajpayee said the forces were there to ensure that the polls were violence-free.
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