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Eliminating terrorism will remain a poll issue: Venkaiah

By Our Staff Reporter



The Bharatiya Janata Party President, Venkaiah Naidu, addressing a press conference in Srinagar on Wednesday. - Photo: Nissar Ahmad.

JAMMU, FEB. 18. The Bharatiya Janata Party will not shelve the issue of eliminating terrorism in the country as its main poll plank in the parliamentary elections despite the dialogue process initiated with Pakistan, the BJP president, Venkaiah Naidu, said today.

Addressing a press conference here this evening, he said, "the BJP welcomes the dialogue between India and Pakistan and we hope the two countries come together. The Prime Minister has shown a lot of wisdom in starting the dialogue process benefiting the whole region." At the same time, Pakistan should fully end sponsoring cross-border terrorism and till then there cannot be normality in our country, particularly Jammu and Kashmir. For this purpose, the issue of eliminating terrorism in all its dimensions would remain part of the BJP's campaign in the coming elections, he added.

Criticising the State Government's rehabilitation policy for terrorists, Mr. Naidu said the policy had a number of glaring defects. Giving money to the youth to give up arms was not the correct way to end terrorism in the country. Asked whether the policy had been cleared by the Centre as claimed by the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, he said, "This is the policy of the State Government and not that of the Centre. We will take up the issue with the Central Government."

On the entry of Varun Gandhi, grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, into the BJP, Mr. Naidu said, "We are not trying to claim the legacy of the Gandhi family. The BJP is a party which has fought against dynastic politics and this will continue to be its stand. Anybody who believes in the BJP's agenda is welcome to join it."

He refuted the charge that the party had accommodated Maneka Gandhi and her son Varun in a panic reaction to the possible fielding of Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi in the elections by the Congress.

Shujaat Bukhari reports from Srinagar:

Addressing a public meeting in Srinagar, Mr. Naidu said the BJP would go it alone in the elections in the State with the slogan of peace and development under the leadership of Mr. Vajpayee. He warned the militants to shun violence or face death.

He said a "Vajpayee lehar" (wave) is going to sweep the whole country. Describing the Prime Minister as an embodiment of character, calibre and credibility, he said Mr. Vajpayee's offer of friendship to Pakistan was intended to ensure the security of the people of the State who have been caught in the violence for the last 14 years.

Making a scathing attack on the Congress, Mr. Naidu said the party was responsible for all the problems in the country, including Kashmir. They have miserably failed in making India prosperous despite ruling the country for 50 years, he said.

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