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It won?t be a cakewalk: PM

Despite conceding that the Lok Sabha elections were not a "no-contest", Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee said on Sunday in an interview to PTI that he had no reason to worry. There was no cause for Congress to be happy because exit polls showed a narrowing gap, he added.
PTI | By Press Trust of India, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON APR 26, 2004 12:19 AM IST

Despite conceding that the Lok Sabha elections were not a "no-contest", Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee said on Sunday in an interview to PTI that he had no reason to worry. There was no cause for Congress to be happy because exit polls showed a narrowing gap, he added.

Vajpayee said the elections were going according to the BJP's calculations and he was hopeful that the NDA would get more than 300 seats, though he did not share the optimism of some of his party colleagues that the BJP would get that figure on its own.

When asked whether the BJP would adopt a new strategy in the remaining phases of the elections to cultivate backward classes and Muslims, Vajpayee said the BJP’s strategy will be to get people out of homes to vote. "In many places the voting had been low. We want to mobilise people," he said.

Vajpayee also said the Muslim community was "still thinking. It has not decided. But the situation is also not that Muslims are against us and will not shake hands with us. This attitude is changing."

Vajpayee also spoke about alliances and affinities. The Samajwadi Party, he said, shared the BJP's thinking. But he was not forthcoming on the post-election scenario. "There are many possibilities. It is difficult to detail them," he said.

Asked who he was referring to when he remarked that he was hurt more by criticism "from within", he named the VHP.

The Prime Minister also clarified his worries on running a coalition, saying what he had meant was there should be a compact coalition: "The number of parties in the coalition should be less."

Vajpayee also dismissed reports that the question of his succession had been settled. "Definitely not. In a democracy there is no question of succession," he said.

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