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V.P. Singh, Paswan back Cong. in Gujarat

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI DEC. 6. The Congress campaign in Gujarat received a shot in the arm today with the former Prime Minister, V.P. Singh, supporting the party and the Lok Janshakti chief, Ram Vilas Paswan, deciding to canvas for it in the December 12 Assembly election.

While Mr. V.P. Singh appealed to the people to vote for the Congress at a press meet here, Mr. Paswan announced at a separate press conference that he would seek votes for the Congress between December 8 to 10. Their decision came close on the heels of the RJD chief, Laloo Prasad Yadav's announcement to campaign for the Congress.

Mr. Paswan, whose party decided not to contest the polls in order to prevent a split in secular votes, said he was responding to requests from senior leaders and the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, who had ``requested'' him to join the campaign.

However, Mr. V.P. Singh said his support to the Congress was limited to Gujarat. ``I made an exception since Congress is the only weapon with which the BJP can be defeated in Gujarat,'' Mr. Singh said.

Mr. Paswan ruled out joining the Congress and said his support for the party was to check the BJP. He apprehended that victory for the BJP would result in the party replicating Narendra Modi's policy elsewhere in the country. He also clarified that he would not share the platform with the RJD chief, his rival in Bihar.

Observing that a party, which had no role to play in the freedom struggle, has now come to proclaim itself as a protector of nationalism, Mr. V.P. Singh said ironically the effort of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel — both hailed from Gujarat — to unite the country, was now under a threat in the State.

He said, it would have been politically potent if all secular forces had engaged the BJP in a one-to-one fight.

Mr. Singh praised the decision of the Lok Janshakti party and the RJD not to contest the election. The CPI (M) and the CPI reached an understanding with the Congress and are contesting one seat each.

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