Advani files papers from Gandhinagar, promises good governance

NetIndian News Network

Delhi, Apr 8

As Bharatiya Janata Party's Prime Ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani filed his nomination papers for a fifth term in the Lok Sabha from the Gandhinagar constituency in Gujarat, the Congress today took a swipe at his claim of being a "determined leader" who will provide a "decisive government".
In Gandhinagar, Mr Advani, 81, said his party would seek the mandate of the people on the issue of good governance.
With Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and state BJP president Purushottam Rupala by his side, Mr Advani said the progress made by the state under Mr Modi's rule was unparalleled and an example that should be followed by the rest of India.
"I have filed my nomination for the fifth time in Gandhinagar constituency. People of this constituency have voted for me in the past and I am happy that I am the party candidate for the fifth time," Mr Advani told reporters after filing the papers exactly at 12.39 pm, which was considered an auspicious time.
"We have provided good governance and worked for the development and welfare of the people of the country whenever we came to power," he said.
The BJP leader, who first won from Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, in 1991, will face renowned dancer and actress Mallika Sarabhai, who is contesting the election as an independent candidate.
The Congress has put up Mr Suresh Patel, a member of the state legislative assembly from Kalol, in the prestigious constituency, who also filed his papers at the district collector's office today shortly before Mr Advani arrived there. Mr Patel said his main campaign theme would be the achievements of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in last five years at the Centre.
Tight security arrangements were in place at the district collectorate and in the surrounding areas for Mr Advani.
Polling is scheduled to take place in all the constituencies of Gujarat on April 30.
Mr Modi assured Mr Advani that he would not face any problems in winning yet again from Gandhinagar and said he need not campaign in the constituency at all because the party workers would take care of all the election work. "Mr Advani can come on the day of election and just cast his vote," he said.
Mr Advani used the opportunity to once again rake up the issue of black money allegedly stashed away by Indians in Swiss banks, which he said should be brought back to India by the government and used for development programmes.
The BJP leader had won from Gandhinagar for the first time in 1991 by defeating Congress candidate G I Patel by about 1.3 lakh votes. He did not contest the 1996 elections after his name cropped up in the "hawala case". Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had contested from Gandhinagar then, apart from Lucknow.
Mr Advani defeated former police officer P K Datta in 1998 and former Chief Election Commissioner T N Seshan in 1999. His rival in 2004 was Gabhaji Mangaji Thakur.
Meanwhile, in Delhi, Mr Arjun Modhwadia, an MLA and Chief Spokesperson of the Gujarat Congress, appeared before mediapersons at the Congress headquarters and questioned Mr Advani's claims about governance and his and his party's role in the development of Gujarat.
Mr Modhvadia and Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan released a book compiled by the former, which they said was based on facts got from the Modi government in Gujarat in response to Right to Information petitions. They cited various figures to show that Gujarat had got much higher allocations from the Centre under the UPA government than from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, in which Mr Advani was Deputy Prime Minister.
Ms Natarajan also attacked the BJP for what she said was its attempts to subvert the secular fabric of India to gain electoral advantage.
"Time and agan the BJP has attempted to use this ploy, and eah time, the wise and mature electorate of India has seen through the game plan of division and destruction and rejected the communal agenda of the BJP," she said. According to her, the results of the Assembly elections in different states in 2008 were an example such a rebuff by the people to the party.
"During these elections, starting from the Pilibhit incident, and with every passing day, the BJP has sought to once again spread its narrow and chauvinistic message of communalism," she said.
According to her, the Congress, on the other hand, had an "exemplary track record" in its commitment to secular values and in the maintenance of communal harmony.
She said the contest between the Congress and the BJP was a fundamental clash between the idea of an inclusive, liberal and secular nation, and the narrow, communal and divisive exclusionary nationalism practised by the BJP.
She said the BJP had been alienated from its allies in the NDA, which she felt was "clear proof of the alienation of the BJP from the people of India." According to her, the most recent proof of this was the statement of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar that Gujarat Chief Minister Modi should not campaign in Bihar and his outright condemnation of the Pilibhit incident in which BJP candidate Varun Gandhi has been accused of making hate speeches against minorities during electioneering.
Ms Natarajan accused Mr Advani of constant flip flops on important issues. "Thus while he continues to support Varun Gandhi's candidature, he says at the same time that due to the concerns of allies, the BJP's own alleged core issues such as the Ram Mandir, and Article 370 will be kept on the back burner."