Beni favours BSP over SP, stumps Congress

With exit polls predicting a hung Assembly in UP, Beni Prasad Verma on Sunday caused a flutter in the party by favouring a tie-up with Mayawati`s BSP.

New Delhi/Lucknow: With exit polls predicting
a hung Assembly in Uttar Pradesh, Beni Prasad Verma – Union
Minister and senior Congress leader from the state – on Sunday caused a flutter in the party by favouring a tie-up with
Mayawati`s BSP, a comment from which the party quickly
distanced itself.

Verma, who quit Samajwadi Party in 2007 following
differences with Mulayam Singh Yadav, said he would personally
prefer BSP to SP, which he dubbed as a "party of goons".

"The key to form the state government is with Congress
and Congress for sure will form the government. If we have to
form an alliance, I would personally prefer BSP. SP is a party
of goons...BSP is a party of Dalits," he said.

Getting into a damage-control mode, Congress spokesperson
Rashid Alvi said, "Whatever Verma said was his personal
opinion. The party high command will take a decision after
taking into account all the aspects only after results are out
on March 6."

In Lucknow, state Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi too
said Verma`s remarks were his personal view. "We will stake
claim to form the government if we get majority, otherwise we
will prefer to sit in the opposition," she said.

She said the results would be different from what has
been shown in the exit polls which had placed SP in the No 1
position followed by BSP, BJP and Congress.

In Bhopal, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh
trashed the results thrown up by the exit polls, predicting
"astonishing" gains for the party in UP.

Asked whether he was ruling out any tie-up between
Congress and BSP, Alvi said, "I do not want to answer a
hypothetical question. Wait for results. Congress will take a
decision when results are out and we are hopeful that results
will be in our favour."

Verma`s views have been rejected as personal by UP
Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tiwari too.

Joshi said her party was also analysing the post-poll
situation but it was too early to say anything.

"It`s too early....Let`s wait for March 6 (counting date).
We have done our job on the ground and are hopeful of good
results. I don`t trust exit polls," she said.

Taking a line contrary to what Congress has maintained
about worsening law and order situation in UP, Prasad said,
"Personally, I prefer BSP in comparison to SP. Mayawati has
controlled lawlessness from Kanpur to Etah. This is my
personal opinion."

Digvijay Singh also attacked the SP. "People of UP have
not forgotten what they suffered in 2002-07 (during SP rule),"
he said.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi did not want to
hazard any guess on the poll outcome. "Enough elections have
taught us endless number of times not to rely on exit or
opinion polls...we are confident (about our performance) and it
is not based on quick sands of exit polls," he said.

Law Minister Salman Khurshid also appeared to ignore
Verma`s statement.

Asked to comment on the remark, Khurshid said he did not
know in what context Verma had said it.

He said the party and the leaders would wait for the
results on March 6 before deciding the future course.