The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trust parade minus PM thrust

New Delhi, Aug. 21: Riding high after trouncing the Congress-sponsored no-trust motion in the Lok Sabha, the BJP is packaging the “victory” as a political plank and a campaign.

The party will launch Vishwas Vijay Saptah in all major cities on Sunday. The high point of the campaign will be public meetings addressed by all the top BJP leaders, except the Prime Minister.

Party sources said Atal Bihari Vajpayee was unwilling to participate in an agitation while in office.

His deputy, L.K. Advani, however, is expected to pitch in by flagging off the weeklong campaign from Mumbai and another city in Maharashtra.

Even finance minister Jaswant Singh — who usually stays away from the political wrestling ring — has been roped in. He has been asked to inaugurate the programme in either Delhi or Chandigarh.

BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu will do his bit from Chennai in Tamil Nadu and Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.

Union ministers Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley will follow suit in Patna, Lucknow and Calcutta and BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan in Ahmedabad.

“In election after election, the issues are generally the same. But the tempo is set by how you pick, package and project certain issues,” a senior party leader said.

“Through this weeklong programme, we want to create an atmosphere of aggression by projecting our achievements and exposing the Congress.”

Film capsules of the speeches made by Vajpayee, Advani and other party leaders during the no-trust debate will be screened at the rallies.

The BJP will focus on the Congress’ inability to keep the Opposition flock together after its “tall talk” about forging an alternative coalition at its Shimla conclave. The ruling party will emphasise that there is no alternative to the National Democratic Alliance.

The BJP, however, appeared undecided to what extent the leadership issue should be played up — that is, whether the campaign should milk the Atal versus Sonia battle for what it is worth, especially after indications to this effect at yesterday’s informal political council meeting at the Prime Minister’s home.

“Some of us think there is no need to overdo the Atal versus Sonia debate,” a source said. The logic was that Vajpayee anyway “stood tall” in the political arena and was facing no “serious” challenge; worse still, the Opposition itself was in two minds about Sonia’s leadership.

The Vajpayee hype and the post-motion feel-good factor notwithstanding, the BJP appeared rattled by Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Raghuvansh Prasad Singh’s allegation in the Lok Sabha during the debate.

Singh had obliquely alleged that Vajpayee had written to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi seeking parole while in prison during the Emergency.

Singh had even produced a document that he said was the letter in question. Speaker Manohar Joshi is examining its veracity.

BJP parliamentary party spokesman V.K. Malhotra, however, went on the offensive at a press briefing today. “There cannot be a bigger lie. It is the biggest lie of the year. There is no such letter,” he said.

Over 100,000 people, he said, were jailed during Emergency and most had refused to seek parole even when their relatives had died or were being married off. “Maybe some persons who were incarcerated might have written letters seeking apology,” Malhotra said.

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