Wednesday, Aug 13, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
Mr. Naidu was indirectly criticising the Chief Election Commissioner, James Lyngdoh, who had said that if synchronised polls were to take place "there would be cheating like hell'' meaning that in such a big exercise the kind of vigilance needed would not be possible.
Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Naidu said that "no proposal to advance or postpone (Lok Sabha) elections is before us.'' However, certainly, "we did keep an idea (of synchronised Assembly and Parliament polls) before the people.'' It was an idea which would "strengthen democracy'' if implemented.
Significantly, the categorical rejection of the possibility of early Lok Sabha elections was made after a meeting this morning between the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, the Union Finance Minister, Jaswant Singh, and Mr. Naidu at the Prime Minister's residence. Apparently, the effort was to put an end to the recent "debate'' on this in the media triggered by the suggestion, first by the Vice-President, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, and then Mr. Advani.
Mr. Naidu rejected the idea of starting the synchronised poll exercise by first getting its allies and friends ruling in the States to dissolve their Assemblies to allow for simultaneous polls with the Lok Sabha elections next year. In response to a question, he said to do this "would leave the field wide open for the Opposition-ruled States.''
He announced a two-month long mass contact party programme `gaon gaon chalo, ghar ghar chalo' under which the party leaders will go to every village and every home. He has written to every party district president and to the MPs and MLAs emphasising the importance of the exercise. Mr. Naidu said the scheduled two-day Jaipur conclave for MPs and MLAs would most likely be postponed to September.
Mr. Naidu said he was making an earnest effort to contact every party president and parliamentary party leader of the National Democratic Alliance parties and their friends and supporters to try and build a consensus on the BJP's proposal for women's reservation in the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies through the double-member constituency mode. He has sent out individual letters to them enclosing the BJP's resolution on the issue adopted by it in Raipur last month.
The letter urges the parties to "study the proposal in our Raipur resolution and help evolve a consensus on this in the NDA.'' He recommended the proposal as the "most practical'' of all suggestions made so far and would help achieve the goal of 33 per cent reservation for women.
As for the Opposition, Mr. Naidu said he was appealing to them through the media. Almost all the major political parties had made a commitment on women's reservation and his view was that a consensus should be built so that a Bill can be passed "in this session.''
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