Ready for the battle of the ballot: Congress, BJP
The announcement of Assembly elections in five States was welcomed by political parties, with the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party stating on Saturday that they were geared up for the battle of the ballot.
However, Uttarakhand Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri said as it would snow in the mountain regions of the State throughout January, the elections should be held in the second half of February.
In a statement here, Major General (retired) Khanduri said that given the inclement weather, elections in January could have an adverse impact on voting. Since the term of the present Assembly was till March, the Election Commission should review the decision.
Echoing his sentiments, Uttarakhand Congress president Yashpal Arya said election in January was not only inconvenient for the parties and voters but would also be a challenge for the Election Commission. Indications are that local units of all major parties are expected to seek review of the schedule.
The Congress and the BJP are engaged in a direct fight in just two of the five States that go to the polls between January and March in 2012. Both are raising the bar in Uttar Pradesh where the Bahujan Samaj Party hopes to retain power amid primary challenge from the Samajwadi Party.
Buoyed by the response its general secretary Rahul Gandhi is drawing at the political rallies, party leader Mohan Prakash said the Congress was ready for the elections and in Uttar Pradesh the people were looking to get rid of the parties that had ruled the State during the last two decades.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said the party would demonstrate once again that it was the only pan-Indian party that had a strong presence in every part of the country.
BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad, while welcoming the announcement, said his party was fully prepared to face the elections. He said voters in Uttar Pradesh would prefer his party as both the ruling BSP and the Samajwadi Party were supporting the Congress-led government at the Centre.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said the announcement of the schedule was “as expected,” while the Janata Dal (United) said the party would contest in all 5 States.