The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Deputy hails Atal ‘ suraj

Nellore, Oct. 27: Guns trained on the Congress, deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today sang paeans to the Vajpayee-led regime, declaring that only in its recent years of governance had any meaningful transition from swaraj to suraj taken place.

Nothing of the kind — freedom to good governance — had been achieved by the Congress in 50 years after Independence, he said. Nor had that party managed to go any way towards fulfilling Sri Aurobindo’s dream that India regain its ancient “vishwa guru” status in the world community.

Speaking at a function after opening a stretch of the widened Chennai-Calcutta national highway, Advani said only in the last five years, “have we been able to create the confidence in our people that we will do it”. He had BJP chief M. Venkaiah playing interpreter all along, translating from Hindi or English to Telugu or vice versa for the benefit of listeners.

The 158-km Tada-Nellore stretch in Andhra Pradesh was widened as part of the Centre’s Golden Quadrilateral project at a cost of Rs 760 crore. Advani also opened other projects for Nellore, Naidu’s constituency, including a krishi vigyan kendra, and laid the foundation stone for new grain godowns.

Addressing a clutch of ministers — including union highways minister B.C. Khanduri, agriculture minister Rajnath Singh, and a Rajasthan minister — invited by Naidu as well as Nellore dignitaries, Advani said it was only now that he could see a “synergy between the raja and praja”. This would eventually make for a “swarna Bharat”, he added.

Advani said the BJP had evolved its policies when he had been president in 1997 and had led the 59-day rath yatra to honour “martyrs and patriots of the freedom struggle”. After coming to power, the party was mandated to convert swaraj to suraj, and the NDA’s agenda had reflected its commitment to security and development, both aspects of good governance.

Impressive statistics had been clocked in various fields, including road building and telecommunications, Advani said. But the high point of the NDA’s achievement could be gauged from the “mood of the country” and the confidence it had instilled in the people’s minds to help convert India into a developed country by 2020.

Two of its biggest achievements were the “feel-good factor” it had generated in the country and the global respect it had won for India, he said. He also lent an ear to Andhra Pradesh’s plea for two more krishi vigyan kendras in neighbouring Khammam and Nizamabad.

Naidu, for the most part, played interpreter, sometimes translating into Telugu the Hindu or English that central ministers spouted or doing the reverse when local dignitaries were speaking. Each dwelt on their respective targets, performance and plans. The BJP chief was also seen explaining to Advani how a retired UN official — belonging to Nellore — had returned to invest his entire pension of Rs 60 lakh to start a junior college in the rural interiors. “There is no paucity of funds or programmes, only paucity of time,” he said.

Earlier, during a brief chat with reporters, Naidu trashed Jayalalithaa’s criticism that the Centre’s proposed terror law review panel was a “mockery” of the act itself. Such safeguards were necessary to prevent misuse, he said.

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