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Jaitley firm, wants Rajnath aide Mittal out

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 17, 2009
First Published: 00:27 IST(17/3/2009) | Last Updated: 10:48 IST(17/3/2009)

The pressure on BJP president Rajnath Singh for asking controversial Delhi businessman Sudhanshu Mittal to quit as central election committee (CEC) member in-charge of the northeast has become more intense.


But although Singh met LK Advani on Monday ahead of the CEC meet on Tuesday, it seems he is not yet ready to go back on his decision. On the other hand, Jaitley remained firm on not attending the CEC meetings till Mittal was asked to go.

Mittal, however, told the BJP leadership that he had no problems in quitting if he was asked by Singh himself.

Senior BJP leaders wanted to avoid the absence of Jaitely at the CEC meeting, as it would be clearing names for Delhi and Bihar, the two states which are under his care.

Though Singh has been reportedly asked by BJP and RSS functionaries to ease the crisis, Singh’s position is that he cannot not be pressured since there is a background to the rift between him and Jaitley.

Meanwhile, the BJP has released its list of candidates for Assam. Mittal has been credited for roping in the Asom Gana Parishad for a pre-poll understanding, and the list is believed to be made under his influence.

Advani, however, insisted there was no rift in the party. “This issue may make a good story for you but there are no differences within the party," he told reporters here on the sidelines of a book release function.

Also, a day after the Third Front’s dinner diplomacy show at Bahujan Samajwadi party chief Mayawati’s residence, Advani called for a strong government to save India from terrorism, vote-bank politics and corruption.

Senior party leader Venkaiah Naidu said, “Third front is neither feasible not possible. It has no consequence. The meet yesterday was nothing more than a successful photo opportunity.”

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