Vajpayee rules out hung House scenario

Tarun Basu & MR Narayan Swamy

New Delhi, May 4:

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has dismissed the talk of a hung Parliament, saying the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is headed for a “decisive mandate” in the polls now underway. Saying that “nobody trusts the Congress party to run a coalition”, Vajpayee said that the danger of instability, the disarray in opposition ranks and the “conflicting aspirations” of opposition leaders for the post of prime minister would impel the people to give a decisive mandate to the NDA headed by the BJP.

“The question of a hung Parliament will not arise at all. The people are well aware of the cost the country will have to pay on account of political instability,” he said. He attributed the emergence of coalitions to the “steep decline and continued shrinking of the Congress party, which once enjoyed supremacy.”

“This process has led to the growth of several regional parties on the one hand and, on the other, BJP’s emergence as the single largest party at the centre. In this era of coalitions, the polarisation is between the BJP and the Congress.” However, there is one crucial difference between the two poles, Vajpayee elaborated. Asked if he foresaw the possibility of any, including the BJP, coming on its own strength, Vajpayee said: “We are only focused on the current elections, and our goal is to get a decisive mandate.”

Vajpayee said he is optimistic about a “steady improvement” in India’s relations with Pakistan. “The recently concluded cricket series has eloquently demonstrated the widespread aspiration for good neighbourly relations. People on both sides want to see lasting peace and mutually beneficial cooperation in diverse fields,” he said. He added that he had good talks with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali in January. “I am keen to continue this dialogue,” he said.

PM’s optimism

•NDA headed for clear mandate

•Nobody trusts Congress which is on the decline.

•There is danger of instability if we aren’t voted to power

•The opposition is in disarray

•Opposition leaders are only interested in PM’s post

•Ties with Pakistan will improve

•Dialogue with Pakistan to go on

•Will try to improve Hindu-Muslim relations