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BJP goes into poll mode

delhi Updated: Oct 07, 2008 00:31 IST
Anuradha Mukherjee

The Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday announced the onset of its poll campaign with a Vijay Sankalp rally meant to energise its grassroot workers for the upcoming Assembly polls, followed by the Lok Sabha polls next year.

In a show of solidarity senior party leaders Lal Krishna Advani and Sushma Swaraj also turned up at the public meeting. The pitch of the rally seemed more attuned to taking pot shots at the various faux pas made by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

“When a woman journalist is shot while driving back home, the chief minister calls it her dusahas (audacity)… When you talk of terrorism, Home Minister Patil (Shivraj Patil) says terrorism is an international phenomenon. He is right, but all these nations have special laws to tackle terrorism,” said Swaraj.

Taking a swipe at what she called the Centre’s reluctance to take stern action against terrorism, Swaraj said: “They (UPA government) were lucky, they had a readymade law – POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act). But the first thing UPA did on coming to power was scrap POTA. They say POTA is anti-Muslim, actually it is anti-criminal. And criminals do not have a religion.”

Advani said the BJP does not support victimisation of minority communities and added he had asked for strict action against those attacking Christians in Orissa.

“I have said the attacks are deplorable and we will not tolerate it. NDA Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has taken immediate action and many culprits are in prison. Despite this, Patil is talking of imposing Article 356 in the state,” he said. Advani warned of serious consequences if the Biju Janta Dal-led Orissa Government was dismissed.

“The government talks of imposing Article 356 in Orissa but not in Assam and West Bengal,” Advani said, referring to the violence in Nandigram and the clashes between Bodos and Bangladeshi Muslims in Assam.

BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Vijay Kumar Malhotra, state president Harsh Vardhan and MP Vijay Goel shared space on the stage. Party leaders from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi like standing committee president Vijender Gupta and Leader of the House Subhash Arya were also present, to boost the party’s claim of working for the city.

The schism within the assembled leaders was subtle but palpable even as an attempt was made to present a unified front. Goel walked in with Tughlakabad MLA Ramesh Bidhuri, even as Harsh Vardhan gave a warm welcome to Swaraj who is considered one of his supporters in the Centre.