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BJP asks Ministers to get involved in party activities

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI SEPT. 15. The Bharatiya Janata Party today let it be known to its Ministers in the Union Cabinet that it expected them to take interest in organisational and election-related activity, and ahead of the Assembly elections in five States, they should tour the States and meet the party workers to take stock of the situation. Above all, it was felt that every effort should be made to coordinate with the "nationalist organisations'' identified as those related to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

The party president, Venkaiah Naidu, had called a meeting of the Ministers at his residence this morning. The Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, the Finance Minister, Jaswant Singh, party general secretaries, Pramod Mahajan and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, and over 40 Ministers attended it. Murli Manohar Joshi, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha were absent, while Arun Jaitley could not attend as he is away in Cancun.

During the four-hour long meeting, Mr. Advani said that the "advantage BJP'' in the four Congress-ruled States going to polls this year must be converted into "victory BJP''. He expressed satisfaction over the pace of party activities and said that a "positive environment'' had been created. He described the meeting as "useful''.

Mr. Naidu reminded the Ministers that they were where they were because of the work done by party workers. They must take interest in organisational work, find time for the party, tour the States and help in giving the lie to Congress propaganda that the Centre had given step-motherly treatment to them.

Briefing reporters later, Mr. Naqvi said the meeting was held in the context of the coming elections. It was decided that before October 15 the party Ministers would tour the States where elections were due, and they would meet district level workers and discuss problems and issues with them. The importance of `samanvay' or coordination and harmonious relations with other "nationalist organisations'' was emphasised. It was pointed out that these organisations — identified as those affiliated to the RSS — could help in carrying the message of good work done by the Government to the people. The Ministers' help was sought in countering Congress propaganda in those States that the Centre had not given them adequate funds under various schemes.

Earlier, Mr. Naqvi circulated a four-page note on distribution of foodgrains to four Congress-ruled States — Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. For three years from 2000 to 2003, they were given cereals worth Rs. 11,772 crores under various schemes.

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