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Top guns brainstorm for House combat

New Delhi, Dec. 1: The Prime Minister held a strategy meeting at his home this morning in anticipation of a stormy winter session of Parliament, starting tomorrow.

The 90-minute interaction with deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, finance minister Jaswant Singh and BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu also discussed the electoral scenario, much before exit polls predicted a good show by the party in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The BJP, like the Congress, has decided to go on the offensive on the Dilip Singh Judeo video, the stamp paper scam, ministers “milking” PSUs allegation, leak of CAT question papers and the ethnic strife in Assam.

Another reason for the meeting was Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s weeklong overseas trip, beginning December 4, the day poll results will be declared. He was to leave for Ghana tomorrow but rescheduled the tour to be present in Delhi for the first two days of the winter session.

Vajpayee will now first leave for Nigeria to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government (Chogm) meeting and may visit Ghana on December 7.

According to sources, the strategy meeting concluded that the Centre could take the wind out of Opposition sails over the PSU allegations as the chief vigilance commissioner himself had denied any Union minister “milking” the PSUs.

On the cash-on-camera controversy, the Centre and the BJP brass are confident of blunting the Congress attack with the charge that Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi’s son Amit had masterminded the sting operation. If necessary, Advani will make a statement on the scam in Parliament, sources said.

The BJP also plans to put the Congress, especially its governments in Maharashtra and Karnataka, in the dock for its alleged links with the so-called kingpin of the stamp paper scam. The ruling party has been demanding a CBI probe in the scam across all affected states, including those ruled by the Congress.

Congress strategists said the Opposition would not allow the Centre to get away easily. “Though the CVC did not name any minister with direct involvement, he has indirectly admitted their link when he complained to the Prime Minister about the interference of ministries in the functioning of PSUs,” one of them said.

The strategists added they were not satisfied with the CVC’s “clarification”.

The party would also emphasise the purported admission to the CBI by Judeo’s personal secretary. “Who did what sting operation is beside the point. Whether the (former) minister met this gentleman (mining company representative) and accepted money...his PA has now confessed it,” a Congress leader alleged.

The party believes it also can put the BJP on the mat over the stamp paper scam as it is spread across 10 states, thus helping trace links to BJP, Shiv Sena and Telugu Desam Party leaders, Congress sources said.

The party may also target Jaswant Singh as his ministry failed to act despite the Karnataka chief minister bringing to notice the lax security at the Indian security press at Nashik.

Party chief Sonia Gandhi will meet her MPs tomorrow morning to shape a strategy.

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