The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Vajpayee wades into ‘Atal maya

New Delhi, Dec. 9: The newly elected BJP chief ministers and the party brass today vied with each other in giving credit to the Prime Minister for the poll sweep in three states.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee complimented Uma Bharti, Vasundhara Raje and Raman Singh, but they said it was all “Atal maya”.

The chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh made a special appearance and their last one at the BJP parliamentary party meeting presided over by Vajpayee here today.

Bharti said she romped home because of the various development and welfare schemes the Prime Minister had initiated as also for his public meetings in Madhya Pradesh. “We made development and governance the issues and people elected us,” party spokesman V.K. Malhotra quoted her as having said.

Her swearing-in ceremony in Bhopal yesterday, attended by sadhus and sants, was described by CPM’s Somnath Chatterjee as “a mini Kumbh Mela” and akin to a VHP “dharam sansad”.

Vasundhara said the poll campaign led by Vajpayee galvanised the cadre, ensuring victory for the BJP. Raman attributed the win to the leadership’s move not to project anyone as chief minister in Chhattisgarh.

Attributing the win to teamwork, the Prime Minister asked his MPs to be vigilant as the Opposition would make attempts to “vitiate” the atmosphere.

“The Opposition cannot face the defeat in the Assembly elections and they will make efforts to vitiate the atmosphere. So we should be careful,” Malhotra quoted him as saying at the parliamentary party meeting.

Vajpayee also said the victory had brought about a change in the country’s political atmosphere. He urged the MPs to begin preparing for the Lok Sabha polls due next year and told the chief ministers to make efforts immediately to provide basic amenities such as power and water to the masses.

People, the Prime Minister said, have high expectations from the BJP and, therefore, there was a need to chalk out short-term and long-term plans for their welfare. His upbeat deputy, L.K. Advani, said he was confident the NDA would return to power next year under Vajpayee’s leadership.

Advani told the meeting that the Assembly polls had provided the necessary morale booster to the BJP, which must now begin preparing for “Mission 2004” — the general elections.

BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu echoed Advani’s words. “After the success of Operation 2003, our next aim should be Mission 2004 and (to) win 300 seats in the Lok Sabha and work towards the NDA getting two-thirds majority,” he said.

The parliamentary party also honoured general secretaries Pramod Mahajan and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley. All were invited to the podium in acknowledgement of their role in planning and executing electoral strategies.

The BJP has decided to organise a meeting of its chief ministers here next month, when they will discuss with the Prime Minister and the party brass the steps needed to accelerate development in their states. “The chief ministers will also be meeting party leaders and discussing measures to implement the party manifesto and action plan and strategy for Lok Sabha elections,” Naidu said.

The decision to convene the conclave was taken at a meeting Vajpayee, Advani and Naidu had with the three victorious chief ministers and their counterparts from Gujarat, Goa and Jharkhand. The meeting followed a lunch Naidu hosted to felicitate Bharti, Vasundhara and Raman.

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