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Let us channel Gujarat energy to protect values: PM

The Vice-President, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, offering sweets to the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, on his 78th birthday in New Delhi on Wednesday, as the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, looks on. — Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

New Delhi Dec. 25. Making a strong plea for channelling the ``Gujarat energy,'' the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, has said that the real face of secularism has come out in the open after the recent elections in the State.

The elections would not change the national political scenario but concepts such as secularism were now being defined correctly, Mr. Vajpayee said in an interview to the Hindi daily, Dainik Bhaskar, on his 78th birthday today. Secularism had always remained a slogan and its meaning and definition were never really debated, he said adding that the ``energy'' generated after the Gujarat elections should be used in a balanced manner to help protect the values in life.

In an apparent reference to the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, launching her election campaign in Gujarat after worshipping at the Ambaji temple, Mr. Vajpayee said ``we remain hardcore secularists for 364 days in a year and we have no objections if, on the 365th day, an election campaign is launched after praying at a temple.''

To a question on some cases of judicial corruption coming to light, he said the Government was contemplating measures to ensure that the judiciary discharged its functions properly. ``We always thought that corruption would never enter the judiciary but as some reports in this regard are coming to light, the Government will take necessary steps.'' If necessary, the Constitution would be amended. Discussions were also under way to set up a national judicial commission. On disinvestment, the Prime Minister said there were "some problems" but he did not think they were insurmountable. Taking everyone along in a coalition Government made it difficult for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance at the Centre to take ``hard decisions.'' ``But, at the same time, the NDA Government has completed three years in office successfully and it has been able to tell its constituents that the future of the country is safe in its hands.''

On reports of problems being posed to the Government by the BJP's allies and the Sangh Parivar, Mr. Vajpayee said he was ``more disturbed about stories on internal squabbles.''