NATIONAL

Clarify on leadership issue: BJP tells Congress

NEW DELHI, APRIL 24. The Bharatiya Janata Party said today that the leadership issue had emerged as the most crucial issue and asked the Congress to name the leader who will lead its allies.

At a briefing at the party headquarters here, the Union Law Minister, Arun Jaitley, asked the Congress to clarify its stand on the leadership issue. Claiming that the "Vajpayee factor" dominated the electioneering, he said that while the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was the undisputed leader of the BJP and the NDA, the Congress had failed to name the leader of its coalition.

He said Mr. Vajpayee's experience as the Prime Minister and the manner in which he provided the country a stable, mature leadership was appealing to the voters.

"There is a surge for Mr. Vajpayee among the people. They want to see Mr. Vajpayee again as Prime Minister," he claimed.

Mr. Jaitley said that he was raising the leadership issue again as the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief and former Bihar Chief Minister, Laloo Prasad Yadav, had told the electronic media that he was a "serious candidate" for the Prime Ministership.

The RJD is an ally of the Congress and the two are fighting the polls together in Bihar. "The Congress should react to this and clarify its stand as the Congressmen say that their party president is their leader.

But who will be the leader of its coalition and who will be the contender for the Prime Ministership," he asked.

Referring to the exit poll results, Mr. Jaitley said while the party remained "indifferent" to it, it favoured a "media audit" where the media should carry the actual results and its projections side by side.He demanded that the Uttaranchal Chief Minister, Narain Dutt Tiwari, should quit in view of the `police violence and terror' unleashed on the traders and the public on April 20 at Haridwar.

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