NCP not contesting Karnataka polls ‘to strengthen Congress’

May 10th, 2008 - 8:32 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Saturday said it was not contesting the assembly polls in Karnataka as it did not wish to divide the “secular votes” and wanted the Congress party to win. “In the ongoing Karnataka elections we did not put up any candidate as this would have divided the secular votes between the Congress and the NCP,” party spokesperson D.P. Tripathi told reporters here.

“In Karnataka the contest is between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). We could have put up as many as 30 candidates in the constituencies that border Maharashtra but did not do so as division of votes would have helped BJP,” Tripathi said.

When asked whether NCP would also do the same in the Maharashtra elections - scheduled for next year - Tripathi said: “Maharashtra is not outside rashtra (nation) and we want to contest all elections as one force under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) banner.”

NCP, led by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, has a strong presence in Maharashtra.

In Meghalaya and Manipur that went to elections earlier this year, the NCP wanted to contest the polls in alliance with the Congress but this could not be worked out, Tripathi said.

“The party feels there should be more efforts fo strengthen the UPA as the era of single-party rule is over,” Tripathi said. He said the UPA constituents should contest the next Lok Sabha elections scheduled for May 2009 as one unit.

Asked who should be the prime ministerial candidate of the UPA, Tripathi said: “The Congress, by virtue of being the largest party in the UPA, has a say but since it is a coalition it should take into consideration the views of other constituents.”

The party has been at pains to clarify that it had no objection to any candidate put up by the Congress for the post, after a controversy where it had stated that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was doing a good job and should be the candidate for the 2009 polls.

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