Venkaiah Naidu denies appeasement of minorities

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, APRIL 24. The BJP president, Venkaiah Naidu, today denied the allegation that his party was appeasing minority communities by using the same card played by the UDF and the LDF in Kerala.

Replying to questions at a press conference here, Mr. Naidu, who is on an election tour in the State and Tamil Nadu, said the BJP upheld the three `E' principles of equal opportunity, economic uplift and education with regard to its approach towards minority communities. The so-called secular parties had been `appeasing' the minority communities and indulging in `Hindu-bashing' all these years. The BJP has been urging all minority communities to come closer to it as only it could protect their interests, he said. The decision of several prominent members of various minority communities to join the BJP was a positive trend, he added.

Mr. Naidu said the most significant aspect of the current Lok Sabha elections was that the entire country knew who the winner and the loser were. "The entire country knows that the NDA will retain power under Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The only question that remains is the margin of victory. The NDA would cross three centuries, the BJP two centuries, while the Congress will be limited to double digits," he said.

He said the Congress and other Opposition parties were facing the dilemma of leadership, agenda and alliance. After having argued for a single party rule, the Congress was forced to accept a coalition under its leadership. Today, it has slid further by expressing its willingness to form any type of coalition, he said. He alleged that the Congress, as an afterthought, was claiming credit for the achievements of the BJP Government, be it the nuclear tests or highway and telecommunication development. He said the Opposition parties were so confused that their election campaign had failed to take off.

He alleged that the LDF and the UDF were deceiving the people in the State. The two fronts were fighting each other but would cooperate after the elections. The onus was on these two fronts to explain to the people the rationale of their contest in Kerala. The BJP's appeal to the people of Kerala is to decide whether they want to be participants in the development of the country. They would be the loser if they failed to elect the NDA candidates, he said.

He said the BJP and the NDA did not go by the exit poll results. The alliance won in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh even though the exit polls came out with contrary results. "The NDA is moving forward. The undercurrents are there for every one to see. Only one thing is certain about the exit polls: the exit of the Congress. We believe in polls and not exit polls. We are not for banning polls or for manning of exit polls," he said.

Mr. Naidu ruled out the question of an alliance with Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh. After the elections, there would be a realignment of forces, and the Congress facing a leadership crisis disintegrate, he said. In reply to a question, he said the recent unity between Mr. Karunakaran and Mr. Antony was like a summer vacation. It would disappear after the polls, he said.

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