Today's Paper

BJP hopeful of AIADMK joining NDA

CHENNAI, FEB. 26. The Bharatiya Janata Party president, M. Venkaiah Naidu, today said his party had only a seat-sharing arrangement with the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam now, but had ``no doubts'' that the AIADMK would join the National Democratic Alliance.

To a pointed query from the media here, Mr. Naidu said the BJP had entered into a seat-sharing agreement with the AIADMK and the question of its becoming part of the NDA would be discussed later. Asked whether he was doubtful of the AIADMK joining the NDA, Mr. Naidu said he had no misgivings and expressed confidence that it would enter into the alliance. ``We have not discussed the issue... But we will move forward.''

To another question, Mr. Naidu said the BJP would not come out with a separate manifesto but the NDA would release a vision document. Asked whether the document would include contentious issues such as Ayodhya and a common civil code, he said it would be prepared in consultation with the allies. ``Only issues which are acceptable to the allies will be on the agenda.''

(Mr. Naidu called on the AIADMK general secretary, Jayalalithaa, at her Poes Garden residence here and held discussions for nearly half hour.)

The BJP would release its list of candidates by March 15. The State units would send in their recommendations by March 5 and the election committee finalise the list between March 10 and 15.

Mr. Naidu said the NDA Government had exploded three myths the Congress purveyed — no party other than the Congress can provide a stable government, only one family can rule the country and that minorities would vote only for the Congress.

Insisting that several Muslims and Christians were joining the BJP, he said the party stood for ``justice for all and appeasement of none.'' The BJP was never anti-minority, but some negative propaganda was carried out against the party. ``Now people are convinced that we are not opposed to the minorities and they are joining us.''

As for celebrities joining the BJP on election-eve, Mr. Naidu, who was addressing the press conference along with cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, said they were coming without any ``pre-conditions or conditions'' in response to a call given by the BJP to join the party and strengthen the hands of the Prime Minister.

Mr. Sidhu said he had joined the BJP because ``India stands tall'' in all sectors under Vajpayee's leadership. ``Let's leave religion aside and see under whose leadership India will reach great heights.''

Later, he and Mr. Naidu addressed the BJP workers in an election preparation meeting in North Chennai.