The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Patna, Sept. 23: BJP president Venkaiah Naidu today categorically denied that his party would enter into any coalition with the National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir, reports our special correspondent.

“Our differences with the party have been widening. There is no question of hooking up ... Justice was not done to the people by the National Conference government that ruled the state so long,” he said.

According to him, one of the main areas where his party differed with the National Conference was the treatment meted out to the people of Jammu and Ladakh. “Justice was not done to them by the NC government, which ruled the state so long,” Naidu added.

Commenting on the proposed trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP chief said though the trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir was on the table for discussion, it could not be a solution to the Kashmir problem.

The BJP president also denied that there were any differences of opinion between the NDA coalition and the BJP over the disinvestment issue. “Once Cabinet has taken any decision, the party will abide by it and go ahead. However, when discussions on opening up of some sectors are coming up, the party is alive to it and such opinions are welcome,” he said.

In an attempt to expand the party’s social base in Bihar, Naidu today used the state’s first Dalit chief minister, Bhola Paswan Sashtri, as a “Dalit mascot” when he attended his birth anniversary programme here and urged his partymen to woo the backwards and Dalits more arduously.

The programme was organised by Union minister of state for communications Sanjay Paswan for the BJP chief to attend.

The BJP hopes that after the departure of Ram Vilas Paswan from the NDA, the party can fill his space by making inroads into the Paswan vote-bank.

During his one-day visit to the city, Naidu also met senior state-level BJP leaders, the party’s youth-wing cadres and ministers. He also addressed BJP workers later during the day and asked them to introspect hard on the party’s lapses and “mid-course corrective measures”.

Naidu admitted that the BJP had failed to expand its social base in the east and south and made little inroads into the backward segment of these regions.

“We are comfortable in some regions like west and north west but east, south and north east required more attention and lot of rethinking. We have reinvigorated the exercise in which we would take the issues to the grassroots,” he said.

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