Various political parties on Wednesday welcomed the announcement of assembly elections in five states with BJP exuding confidence of victory due to the “positive undercurrent” post demonetisation and Congress urging Election Commission to ensure free and fair polls.
“State elections are fought largely on the state-level issues...(but) there is a positive undercurrent for BJP across the country which is what we have seen post-demonetisation.
“There is a strong undercurrent. Therefore, we expect to win all the states...our stakes are the lowest, but our gains are going to be highest,” BJP national spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao said.
To drive his point, Rao cited the examples of the party’s impressive show in the recently held by-elections and civic polls, particularly in Gujarat and Maharashtra. He said BJP is now going to be an “important player” in the poll-bound states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur.
Stating that BJP did not enjoy a big strength in Manipur earlier, he said, his party has done really well in the by-elections there.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala described the polls to the five states including Uttarakhand and Manipur, where his party will seek another term in row, as a ‘yagna’ of democracy and urged the EC to ensure “free, fair and independent polls”.
“We also hope that the use of muscle power, abuse of government power and misuse of money power will be checked once and for all and it will be good for democracy,” he said, while welcoming the poll schedule.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose AAP is fancying chances of clinching power in Punjab and Goa, claimed the situation in the two states, where the BJP is in power or sharing it, is “bad” and people want to bring in an “honest” government led by his party in the upcoming polls.
“Both in Punjab and Goa, the situation is bad. In Punjab, people want to throw the BJP coalition government and bring in an honest AAP government so that they get freed from drugs and corruption,” he said.
Sanjay Raut, an MP from NDA constituent Shiv Sena, said poll preparations of the saffron party are “complete”, particularly in northern states and BJP-ruled Goa.
“Shiv Sena is holding an important meeting chaired by party president Uddhav Thackeray where such issues will be discussed. Our preparations are complete for the polls,” he said.
Naresh Agrawal, who was recently expelled by Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh in the midst of feud within the ruling party of Uttar Pradesh, insisted the EC to see the budget session announced by the central government be postponed to ensure that the voters do not get influenced.
“The manner in which the budget session has been convened in between the polls, we will urge the Election Commission to
get it postponed, the way 2012 budget session was postponed, to ensure free and fair poll,” Agarwal said.
Targeting the BJP and Samajwadi Party, BSP leader Sudhindra Bhadoria said both the parties have caused “harassment” to people through goonda raj and demonetisation respectively and that the Mayawati-led party was “eagerly” waiting for announcement of dates to take on them.
Meanwhile, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh hailed the EC’s decision to hold elections in the state in one go, a move, which he said, was in line with a request his party had made to the EC to ensure proper law and order situation during polls period there.
“This is good, we will beat both the Akali-BJP coalition and the AAP and they will know where Punjab is standing,” he added.
Congress’ Chief Ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh, Sheila Dikshit, too said the party will go for a time-bound programme in the politically crucial state and “will contest to win”.
BJP leader from Uttarakhand, Vijay Bahuguna, said people from the hill state were “awaiting” to throw the “corrupt and anti-people” Congress government, led by Harish Rawat. He said the party will bank on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s canvassing to gain power.