Khalap hesitates to call BJP communal

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 23 January 1998 13:26 IST

Probably to keep his options open, the union law minister of the United Front government, Ramakant Khalap from Goa, is keeping his mouth shut on the Bharatiya Janata Party.

His generosity has gained to such an extent that he even hesitates to call the BJP "communal", which was the main ground to come together under the banner of UF and form the government.

"Why do you want to enter into controversy", he asked the journalists, who literally grilled him on making his position clear on the BJP. "I don’t like to call names to anybody", he adds.

He also does not reply to a question whether he would keep his options open after polls. "The ifs and buts have to wait till 2nd March", he says.

"My 25-year commitment is enough proof of it. I won’t give rise to any situation where my integrity will be questioned", he says.

But he once again maintains silence when reminded that his Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party has forged an alliance with the BJP in the last Assembly polls four years ago.

In fact, he was trying similar experiment this time, but could not succeed due to strong opposition from local BJP cadres.

Though his pre-election alliance has failed, sources close to Khalap reveal that the national BJP leadership has assured him a cabinet berth, if elected. The alliance failed as he refused to step down as the minister, claim the BJP sources.

"I am with the UF and will always remain with the UF", says the law minister, but not determinedly. In fact, he says the basic principles of the UF is anti-BJP and anti-Congress and communalism is the secondary aspect.

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Lok Sabha '98