The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Vaghela seeks VHP poll bar

Ahmedabad, Nov. 9: The Congress will ask chief election commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh to prohibit the Vishwa Hindu Parishad from campaigning for the BJP in the Assembly elections in Gujarat.

State Congress president Shankersinh Vaghela has taken exception to the VHP’s plan to plunge into electioneering. “The Election Commission should not allow the VHP to t ake part in electioneering as it is a religious organisation,” he said today.

The VHP plans to take out a yatra from Akshardham on November 15 and has also sought over 30 seats that it intends to contest.

Vaghela, however, stressed that the VHP is a religious organisation that has nothing to do with elections, and said his party would seek a ban on the organisation. The Congress will make a representation to Lyngdoh, who is scheduled to visit Gujarat on Monday.

The poll panel chief has warned politicians not to exploit religion for political gains and has made it clear that he would enforce the law rigidly during elections.

Vaghela expressed hope that Lyngdoh would rein in the VHP, whose leaders often cross the limit in their speeches. He alleged that VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders were on the BJP’s payroll.

The Congress leader claimed that people knew the role these two organisations played in communal disturbances in the state.

He was confident that they would bite the dust in the December 12 elections as the voters know the organisations’ capacity to “foment trouble”.

The state Congress chief questioned caretaker chief minister Narendra Modi’s leadership qualities, claiming that he is not fit even for becoming the president of a municipality. Making such an incompetent man the chief minister has created a leadership crisis, he said.

Vaghela claimed that the government is in doldrums and senior ministers and MLAs of the dissolved House are looking for safer constituencies. He claimed that the mood in the Congress camp is upbeat and the “party is sure to return to power”. Many of the sitting Congress MLAs of the dissolved House would be renominated, he added.

The Congress will kick off its poll campaign on November 11 from Karamsad, the birthplace of Sardar Patel, from where the BJP had launched its election campaign on October 31. Congress president Sonia Gandhi will not be present at Karamsad, but will address nine public meetings in the state.

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