Verma seeks post-poll ties with BSP, Congress terms it personal view (Lead)March 4th, 2012 - 8:47 pm ICT by IANS
Lucknow/New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) Creating a stir ahead of Tuesday’s vote count in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma Sunday said it was better for the Congress to ally with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) than with the Samajwadi Party (SP). The Congress, however, termed his views as “personal”.
Verma told TV channels that BSP chief and Chief Minister Mayawati had a far better record in curbing crime than SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav.
“(BSP chief) Mayawati is thousand times better than Mulayam Singh Yadav as she has been able to bring down the crime rate in the state in the last five years. The Congress should think about forging an alliance with the BSP,” he said.
Verma, who had joined the Congress after parting ways with the SP before 2009 Lok Sabha polls, clarified that he was conveying his personal views but insisted that he will advocate an alliance with the BSP.
“The Samajwadi Party is not a secular party and has joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) several times in the past. If no one gets the needed majority in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress should form an alliance with the BSP or there should be president’s rule and re-election in the state,” he said.
Verma’s remarks did not evoke an immediate comment from the SP and BSP but the BJP accused Congress leaders of giving contradictory statements from time to time.
Congress’ Uttar Pradesh chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi distanced the party from Verma’s remarks and said any decision on alliances will be taken by the party high command.
“The party’s line is clear… if we get a majority then we will form the government otherwise we will sit in the opposition. Whatever he (Verma) has said is his personal view,” she told reporters in Lucknow.
She said that there was no discussion on any such alliance, noting that as head of the state unit, she would be the first to know it.
Joshi also expressed optimism about the Congress’ chances.
“We are not talking or thinking about any alliance now, as we are hopeful that people will give a good mandate in our favour,” she said.
Speaking in Delhi, Congress spokesperson Raashid Alvi also sought to play down Verma’s remarks.
“After election results are announced, party high command and leadership, seeing all conditions, will take a call. We are confident that the decision will be in our favour,” he said.
Party leader Digvijay Singh claimed that the Congress will make “astonishing gains” in Uttar Pradesh and trashed the results thrown up by exit polls.
Singh, who is party in charge of Uttar Pradesh, said the party would get at least 100 seats and rejected projections that SP could get an absolute majority.
He denied that the result in Uttar Pradesh will reflect on Rahul Gandhi and said that turning goodwill generated by leadership into votes was largely the task of party workers.
Meanwhile, Law Minister Salman Khurshid said he was not aware of the circumstances in which Verma had made the remarks and clarifications should be sought from him.
He said the party’s “top leadership will indicate the way forward” after the results.
BJP leader Kalraj Mishra slammed Verma’s remarks and said it reflected the fear in the Congress.
“Congress leaders, time to time, have given contradictory statements. The strange statements being made by Congress leaders shows the fear and frustration of the Congress,” he said.
Apart from Uttar Pradesh, counting of votes will take place for assemblies of Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa March 6.
Some political observers said Verma’s remarks could be an attempt by the Congress to test the waters in respect of alliances in view of the possibility of a split verdict in Uttar Pradesh.
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