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Appeal to Jethmalani

JAMMU, APRIL 14. The Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, today hoped that the former Law Minister, Ram Jethmalani, would reconsider his decision to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Lucknow, assuring him that he [Mr. Vajpayee] would continue to address the issues of concern to him, such as the security and welfare of the minorities and the freedom of the press.

``Mr. Ram has filed his nomination to contest for the elections from the Lucknow constituency from where I am also seeking re-election. Since this is likely to be the last election in which we will be active participants, I expect that he will reconsider his decision,'' Mr. Vajpayee said in a statement here.

``The issues that are of concern to him — particularly with regard to the security and welfare of the minorities and the freedom of the press — have always been important to me as well. I assure him that these will continue to be addressed, if I am returned to office after the elections,'' he said.

The Prime Minister said that he was a witness to Mr. Jethmalani's many contributions and continuing commitment to the country's political and social causes, including Jammu and Kashmir and India-Pakistan relations. His advice and counsel in these matters would always be valued.

Regretting that certain ``totally uncalled for'' statements of a personal nature had been made against Mr. Jethmalani during this campaign, Mr. Vajpayee said: ``These are inconsistent with what I have always stood for in my public life. They are regrettable and should not have been made.'' — UNI

PTI reports from New Delhi:

Asserting that contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Lucknow was a ``national duty and not a matter of sentiment," Mr. Jethmalani said over telephone from Mumbai that he would decide on Mr. Vajpayee's appeal only after consulting the supporting political parties.

UNI, PTI

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