The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atal answers with a dream

Hyderabad, Jan. 11: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today sidestepped references to the possible timing of general elections but called on political parties to fight the coming polls with dignity and respect.

“Elections are coming. India is the biggest democracy in the world and parties should fight the elections with dignity and mutual respect,” Vajpayee said at a huge rally here in the middle of the BJP’s two-day national executive called to discuss early elections.

He said the NDA had made such a grand success of the coalition concept that even the Congress was trying to follow suit, but has entered into “unprincipled” alliances.

“Now even the Congress party is opting for alliances and negotiations,” he said, referring to the rush by the principal Opposition party to sew up an anti-NDA alliance.

In his first comments on former NDA ally DMK going with the Congress, he said: “The Congress is aligning with the DMK which it had earlier charged of supporting the killers of Rajiv Gandhi. Our objective of alliance is different. It is always with parties who have worked for the development of states and redressed the grievances of people.”

Turning his attention on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Vajpayee upbraided her for using “uncivilised electoral language”. “She has to learn how to respect democratic values and other personalities in public life,” he said.

Vajpayee pointed out that Sonia had once ridiculed the NDA’s hopes of a 7 per cent growth rate by comparing it to Mungeri Lal’s dreams. “We not only dream. We also know how to turn them into reality.”

He added: “The NDA has proved her wrong and succeeded not only in being at the helm of power for a full term, but also in achieving all round prosperity and peace in the country.”

Deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti opted out of the rally citing ill health. BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu shared the dais with the Prime Minister and translated his speech into Telugu.

Standing in Chandrababu Naidu’s capital, Vajpayee lauded the Telugu Desam Party chief’s contribution to the success of the NDA even while staying out of it.

“I thank Naidu for his support, but I hope he will join the NDA government after the next polls to complete the unfinished task of propelling the country as a super economic power.”

The NDA had altered the entire face of India in the last four years just like Hyderabad, which is a totally changed city under Naidu, he said.

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