SP, BJP, Cong welcome 7-phase polls in UP



New Delhi: Congress, BJP and SP today welcomed the announcement of seven-phase elections in Uttar Pradesh but ruled out any more pre-poll alliances, each claiming it will come to power on its own steam.

Samajwadi Party, which stood second in the 2007 elections with 98 seats, said the people of Uttar Pradesh are fed up of Mayawati-led BSP and want a change of guard. In Lucknow, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav said, "We will not go for any alliance now. People of UP, be they from the backward or the forward castes, should give Samajwadi Party a majority."

He insisted his cycle yatra throughout the state had propelled the party to the centrestage and others were "thousands of kilometres behind us". SP also clarified that it was not against modernisation and use of computers- a charge levelled against the party during the last Assembly elections when its manifesto said computers and English were not welcome.

"SP is not against English. We have said that computers should use Hindi or Urdu or even English," he said. Taking on his political adversaries, Yadav said while BJP had transferred its vote to BSP in the past, BSP itself has governed badly and made people angry.

"Congress is also responsible for problems in the state relating to power, water and farmers. We are having difficulty in explaining 2G scam to farmers and labourers," he said. BJP welcomed the announcement but hit out at BSP for its "misrule" in UP. "Had the law and order situation been better in UP, I think the Election Commission would not have announced a seven phase schedule," former party president Rajnath Singh said.

BJP also demanded that the Election Commission remove those top bureaucrats and police officials who are close to Chief Minister Mayawati, accusing them of working as BSP "agents".

"We will fight the elections in Uttar Pradesh on the issues of corruption and crime which have increased manifold under Mayawati's rule. However, the BJP feels free and fair polls in the politically crucial state of UP are not possible till police officers and top bureaucrats are removed from key postings," BJP Vice-President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

He demanded that these officials, who have conducted themselves as "spokespersons and agents of BSP" in the last four and half years should be removed from key postings.

He said UP Cabinet Secretary and DGP were among them. BJP Chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad maintained that the time has come for people of UP to "get rid of the troika of Congress, BSP and SP who are friends in need and deed in Delhi but maintain a facade of opposition in Lucknow". He charged that these three parties are representatives of misrule, corruption and non-development". Hailing the poll schedule, Congress said it is raring to go and claimed the exercise will again show it is the only pan-Indian party.

"The Congress is raring to go. It is fit as a fighting machine. It will show yet again that it is the only pan-Indian party with a strong presence in every nook and corner of the country," party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said. Congress UP unit chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi welcomed "preponing" of the polls and claimed the "winds of change blowing in UP are in its favour".

PTI