The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani & cadre fail to connect

Kanpur, April 26: Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s advice today that BJP members project it as a party with a difference, without rocking its coalition with the Bahujan Samaj Party, left the rank and file in Uttar Pradesh confused.

Advani asked BJP leaders — at a convention of party workers from 14 districts and later at a closed-door meeting of Uttar Pradesh ministers and the party’s state unit leaders — to stop fighting among themselves and improve their performance.

“Improve yourself and your performance because people have many expectations from the BJP,” Advani said, leaving all their misgivings unanswered.

The deputy Prime Minister spent 20 minutes at the party workers’ convention at the Phoolbagh grounds and 10 minutes at the closed-door meeting at the IIT Kanpur guesthouse.

“We cannot afford to commit mistakes. The people can forgive the Congress for its wrongs but will not tolerate the BJP doing the same,” Advani told party workers at Phoolbagh.

He admitted that politics of coalition imposed certain restrictions on the BJP. “But our own behaviour should also be good,” he told party members, who appeared restive.

Some of them tried to rekindle the flame of the early 1990s by raising slogans of “Jai Shri Ram”, but the charioteer of the Ram rath yatra seemed to have other things on mind, especially with the coming Lok Sabha elections.

“The politics of coalition does impose some restrictions on the party. But you must tell the people about the achievements of the Vajpayee government at the Centre,” Advani told the Phoolbagh rally.

“Easy telephone and cooking-gas connections, a wide network of roads all over the country, interlinking of rivers are among the many achievements of the government of which you should be proud. You alone can ensure that the party’s message reaches the masses,” he said.

The BJP leader’s address left most at the rally unconvinced and unsure of what the future held for them.

“The officers give preference to BSP leaders and our requests are ignored. Even our leaders are busy making money instead of solving our problems,” complained Ram Soorat, a BJP worker from Fatehpur.

“How can we defend the acts of a coalition government in which the other partner ignores us totally'” asked Saman from Banda district.

Uttar Pradesh BJP president Vinay Katiyar said Advani’s Kanpur visit was not politically significant. “When I learnt that he was coming to Kanpur to attend a convocation, I requested him to address party workers and he agreed,” Katiyar said.

Advani, along with seven other accused, was to attend the CBI special court in Rae Bareli today in connection with the Babri Masjid demolition case. But none of the accused — Katiyar, Union minister Murli Manohar Joshi, VHP leaders Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Uma Bharti and Sadhvi Ritambhara — turned up, prompting their counsel to requested the court to condone their absence.

The court accepted their counsels’ request, but again refused to give them general exemption and fixed May 13 for the next hearing.

This was the second hearing of the case since it was shifted from the Lucknow special court to the Rae Bareli special court on the Supreme Court’s directives. None of the accused had appeared at the earlier hearing on April 16.

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