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Jethmalani to take on Vajpayee

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | April 07, 2004 16:57 IST

Former Union minister and legal eagle Ram Jethmalani will contest against Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee from Lucknow as an Independent.

"The Congress, Left parties and a few other parties representing minority groups have already declared their support to my candidature," he said in Lucknow.

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"Though earlier I had said that I would contest against Vajpayee only if all opposition parties agreed to support me as a united candidate, I finally decided to go ahead despite the fact that the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have fielded their respective nominees," he said.

Asked why these two major parties had not agreed to support him, he said, "Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav is allegedly hobnobbing with the Bharatiya Janata Party, while BSP president Mayawati is apparently being blackmailed."

Jethmalani exuded confidence about giving Vajpayee a run for his money.

"Vajpayee is an old friend, but it is really lamentable that despite being prime minister, he failed to ensure basic needs of the electorate."

He criticised the PM for the poor civic conditions in Lucknow.

"I was Union urban development minister for just one year and within that short span of time I was able to keep my word of starting construction of two million houses, besides ensuring end to unlawful and unauthorised constructions.

Asked how he intended to wipe out the Vajpayee government by simply contesting against the PM as an Independent, he said, "Well, if you look at their vision document, you will find that Vajpayee alone is the party's mascot, so I have decided to take him on.

"My contention is that when a man cannot keep his promises he made to the three and a half lakh people who voted for him in the 1999 poll in Lucknow, how can he be trusted to lead a nation of more than 100 crore people?"

He charged the government of "allowing its friends and cronies to commit scams worth thousands of crores".

Referring to the Tehelka case, he said, "The BJP president [Bangaru Laxman] was caught accepting bribe by enterprising journalists of Tehelka, and instead of punishing the culprits the government got after the journalists, who continue to be hounded and harassed by the government appointed inquiry committee as well."

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