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Vajpayee woos tribals in Maharashtra

Vijay Singh in Mumbai | April 01, 2004 21:33 IST

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Thursday said his government did more for the tribals than any other previous government.

Speaking at a rally in Jawhar in Thane district in Maharashtra, the prime minister reminded the largely tribal gathering that it was his government which for the first time set up an independent tribal welfare ministry.

Referring to the country's double-digit GDP growth, Vajpayee said while development was welcome care must be taken to see that it touches every part of the country, including villages and tribal areas.

Striking a chord with the locals, he said he was aware of the demand for a Dahanu-Nasik railway link. He revealed that his government had set aside Rs 20,000 crore for laying new railway lines.

While the prime minister steered clear of the James Laine controversy, other speakers, including state Bharatiya Janata Party unit chief Gopinath Munde, launched an attack on the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance for making political capital out of the issue.

Laine's book 'Shivaji: Hindu Kings in Islamic India' was banned in Maharashtra after protests against some 'uncharitable' references in it to the Maratha king.

Vajpayee in a speech a few months back had criticised the ban. On Thursday, however, he kept mum on the issue.

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