Delimitation triggers dissent in BJP

SHIMLA NOV. 9. Fearing dissidence in the party over the delimitation of constituencies in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP high command has sent Arun Jaitley, the senior party general secretary, to Shimla to curb the voices of dissent.

The BJP here is divided between the Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal camps on the issue of delimitation. After the reservation of certain constituencies "belonging" mainly to Shanta Kumar loyalists and the scrapping of the Sulah Assembly constituency of Mr. Kumar, his supporters are up in arms and have voiced their resentment with the high command.

In order to put an end to the controversy, the party has taken a tough stand against the Shanta Kumar loyalists and thrown its weight behind Mr. Dhumal, who was called "a master of statecraft'' by Mr. Jaitley in front of mediapersons here on Saturday.

Mr. Jaitley, who was here to address three separate meetings of BJP office-bearers, MLAs and district unit presidents, made it clear that the party would not tolerate any indiscipline and the coming elections would be fought under Mr. Dhumal. Asked if it was a mere coincidence that all the findings of the Delimitation Commission had gone in favour of a particular group, Mr. Jaitley defended the findings and said these were arrived at on the basis of population and would be done similarly across the country. "Anyone not satisfied with the findings is entitled to go before the Commission and represent his case,'' he said.

Stating that there was no room for resentment or intra-party conflicts on the issue, Mr. Jaitley said the exercise was being undertaken by an independent body. The State and Central Governments should not be brought into the controversy on the issue.

Asked why the same exercise was not undertaken in Gujarat, he said there was no time left before the Assembly election to complete the work. "But it will be undertaken in all other States before their respective Assembly elections,'' he said.

Criticising the mass arrest of Opposition workers in Punjab, Mr. Jaitley said the Chief Minister, Amrinder Singh, "thinks that the State is his personal fiefdom and not a democratic set-up where the rule of law prevails.''

He said the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, had indulged in empty rhetoric against the National Democratic Alliance at Mount Abu whereas she should have reviewed the "anti-people" policies of the Punjab Government.

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