The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP steam for Naidu snap poll

Hyderabad, Nov. 4: L.K. Advani and BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu have assured the Andhra Pradesh chief minister that the National Democratic Alliance will campaign for him if he calls snap elections.

. Chandrababu Naidu has been trying to gauge if the October 1 bid on his life by Naxalites at Tirupati has sparked a sympathy wave. He is anxious to cash in on such sentiments by holding snap polls — elections are due only in October next year.

Naidu recently discussed holding snap polls with the deputy Prime Minister as well as the BJP president.

A senior Telugu Desam Party functionary said both leaders had assured the chief minister that the NDA would campaign for him. With BJP leaders terming the Andhra elections as a “mini-Lok Sabha poll”, Naidu has also roped in Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to campaign for him.

The Desam held its first public rally in a semi-rural area yesterday as it sought to gauge if the assassination attempt had sparked a sympathy wave.

The meetings at Mamidipalli and Ravirala in the Ranga Reddy marked Naidu’s first rally since the bid on his life.

The turnout was poor, with the chief minister especially disappointed by the lukewarm response among women supporters.

As he saw women heading towards the exit, Naidu was reduced to pleading: “Listen to me. I will not rest till I ensure equality for women in our society.”

The chief minister — whose injured left hand was hurting him during yesterday’s meeting — has put off rallies slated for Vizianagram and West Godavari by two days.

Adding to his misery was a public address system failure at the Ranga Reddy rally that left Naidu fuming at the organisers. An ambitious Rs 1,200 crore micro-irrigation project was announced at this rally.

However, the Desam remains enthusiastic about snap polls, claiming it is prepared for any “risk” to combat any anti-incumbency factor that the chief minister might face.

Naidu has been in power since September 1995 when he unseated his father-in-law and Desam founder .T. Rama Rao.

The chief minister, who has set a record of sorts by remaining in power for eight years in a row, scraped through in the 1999 Assembly elections that were held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls, chiefly because he got the support of the BJP.

With the chief minister almost certain to call for early elections, the Congress’ Prajahita bus yatra is currently touring the volatile East Godavari district to drum up support.

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