Govt denies Opposition talk of early Lok Sabha polls



New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi's taking over a major role in connection with next Lok Sabha election has made the Opposition talk of Congress advancing the polls to cut losses, a contention vehemently denied by the party and the government.

The talk gained ground in the wake of Samajwadi Party announcing as many as 55 of its candidates for the next general elections and senior Left leader Sitaram Yechury saying that Congress may go in for early polls.

"Their (Congress) house in not in order. All the states where they have more MPs are in a state of crisis, like in Andhra Pradesh. They may want to go in for early polls to cut their losses," senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said here.

The ruling party as also the government, however, said the ruling dispensation has been given a mandate for full five years till 2014 and added that it will complete its term.

Information and Broadcasting Minster Manish Tewari said that ever since the UPA-II has come to power, such speculation has always been there. "The government has been elected for five years. People have given mandate for five years. The government will last for five years," he said.

At the AICC briefing, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi also ruled out the possibility saying the polls will be held as per schedule and there is no threat to the government.

He maintained that as a political party, Congress is always ready for elections.

Rahul being made head of the Congress Coordination Committee for the polls prompted Union Minister Salman Khurshid to hail him as the party's "commander" for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Alvi said the next elections will be fought under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain, however, took potshots saying this was not the first assignment of Rahul and he only wishes that the results of UP and Bihar assembly elections are not repeated at the national level, a remark that invited sharp reaction from Congress leaders.

Rahul had played a major role in the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh in 2012 and in Bihar in 2010 but the results were disappointing for Congress.

Hussain was apparently referring to that.

Reacting to it, Congress leader Manish Tewari said, "BJP should pay attention to internal dissensions."

"As far as Congress is concerned, questions like how it should run, who should run it and who are leaders of Congress, should left to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi," he said.

Alvi also had a dig at the BJP saying there are several PM candidates in the BJP fighting against each other. BJP's coming to power was just a dream and nothing else, he said.

Alvi ducked questions whether Rahul will be the PM candidate in the next polls noting that Manmohan Singh is the Prime Minister till 2014. "Let us wait" was his refrain.

Tewari said, "There is still time for 2014. A strategy has been drawn up and for the implementation of this strategy, a committee has been set up under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. Under the leadership of the Congress President and with the initiative of members of the committee under the stewardship of Rahul, you will see greater coordination in the coming one-and-a-half years."

Hailing Rahul's elevation, Khurshid said, "This has been the demand of the party for a long time that Rahul, who is working with youths and lending cooperation to Sonia Gandhi should move forward and take the leadership in his hand.

"We have to be successful in the biggest challenge and struggle that is the next elections. Now it is very clear that who is our commander for the next fight. Who will take us forward is very clear," he said.

PTI