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Stampede has not dented image: Vajpayee

April 14, 2004 17:30 IST

Describing the Lucknow stampede as an 'unfortunate and grave incident', Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Wednesday dismissed allegations that the incident had dented his image.

"It is a great tragedy, we are mourning it, but elections cannot wait," he said after offering floral tributes to the statue of Dr B R Ambedkar in front of Vidhana Soudha, the Karnataka government's secretariat in Bangalore.

Vajpayee, who represents Lucknow Lok Sabha constituency, defended the distribution of saris by his poll manager Lalji Tandon.

"Every year saris have been distributed there," Vajpayee said. "This time something happened and it is unfortunate."

Vajpayee declined to comment on the Supreme Court's verdict ordering transfer of Gujarat's Best Bakery cases to Maharashtra, but said the government 'will abide by the court's order'.

When asked to comment on the personal attacks that were being made during the election campaigns, Vajpayee said he was opposed to such practices and exhorted political party leaders to take the campaign to the highest level.

Vajpayee campaigned at Belgaum and Bangalore on Tuesday by addressing election rallies and stayed overnight at Bangalore.

The prime minister earlier in the day visited Whitefield on the outskirts of Bangalore for a darshan of Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Vajpayee had consultations with state unit Bharatiya Janata Party leaders on the upcoming Lok Sabha and assembly elections.

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