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Shah sounds state poll bell

New Delhi, July 31: New BJP president Amit Shah today addressed party MPs for the first time, asking them to honour the “faith and trust” voters had reposed in them and work for the impending by-polls and Assembly elections.

Shah, one of Narendra Modi’s closest confidants, gave the call in the presence of the Prime Minster who welcomed the party chief at the meeting.

Parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu also addressed the MPs, reaffirming the Centre’s reforms drive and informing them that the government was committed to passing the bill to hike the FDI cap in insurance to 49 per cent.

Shah asked the MPs to “scrupulously” follow a “3S” mantra — “sampark, samvaad and samanvaya (contact, communication and co-ordination)”.

The party chief urged them to open an office in their constituencies to keep in touch with voters and discuss their problems, besides raising area-specific issues in the House.

But the immediate focus of Shah — the architect of the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh victory in which the party won 73 of the state’s 80 seats — seemed the forthcoming polls which he dubbed “extremely important”.

“We have to work with all our strength and the MPs should be ready to work at the booths. The MPs from the non-poll bound states will be deployed in the four election-bound states (Haryana, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, and Jharkhand) for which we are making a detailed plan,” a release quoted Shah as saying. He also asked the MPs to use their LAD funds “prudently”.

Naidu dwelt on plans to pass the insurance legislation, which could not be taken up in the Rajya Sabha today as the Opposition sought more time to examine its provisions, and the Securities Bill that seeks to give regulator Sebi greater powers to curb ponzi schemes.

Later, Naidu said he was speaking to leaders of various parties on the insurance bill. One perceived hurdle was the Congress, which _had reportedly had a mood change It had offered support earlier on a bill it was keen to pass the legislation when in power but could not do so because of the BJP’s opposition. This time, sources said the bill would have to go to a select committee of the House because of _11 11 amendments _have been recommended by the standing committee.

Asked about the Congress’s reported turnaround, Naidu said: “Nobody has yet said anything about the bill. I am confident it will go through.” The minister claimed “some” Congress leaders had “personally told him” they favoured the move

A strategy has also been drawn up to counter the Congress on another issue _troubling the government— the alleged bugging at Union minister Nitin Gadkari’s residence. If the Congress and the rest of the Opposition persist with the matter, a government source said the BJP might press for a discussion on alleged phone-tapping and eavesdropping during the Congress-led UPA’s 10-years in power.