'Elections have a magical effect on people'

NEW DELHI DEC. 4. Cautioning against a repeat of the "ugliest phenomenon ever witnessed in the country'', the former President, K.R. Narayanan, said today that the coming elections in Gujarat had made even hardliners adopt a more "secular'' approach.

``Elections have a magical effect on people. It is the approaching elections that have made the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister say they are ashamed of what happened in Gujarat. It only goes to show that even they are apprehensive of the people's reaction,'' he said.

He was speaking at a function to release the noted historian, K.N. Panikkar's latest work "Before the Night Falls''.

Describing the book as "timely and significant'', he said "I hope the book helps in banishing the poison of communalism from the nation before it can cause any harm to the people.''

While claiming that the book was written by him as a concerned citizen, Prof Panikkar pointed out if the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 had set the beginning of a new stage for the country, the happenings in Gujarat had brought the country to another stage -- albeit one more dangerous.

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