His criticism may indicate the unlikelihood of a post-poll alliance

Carrying on with the Congress offensive against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, Union Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh dubbed her “former Chief Minister” even as three phases of election to the Assembly remains to be conducted.

Mr. Ramesh shot down a reporter's question on Ms. Mayawati's objections to the manner in which MGNREGS was being conducted by saying that “she is now former Chief Minister.”

He was interacting with mediapersons while releasing a Planning Commission report on reforming the MGNREGS.

Asked who the next incumbent would be, he said there was no dearth of candidates and there were several aspirants in the Congress for the top job in Uttar Pradesh — obviously assuming that his party would secure the majority notwithstanding the fact that the party had won just 20 seats in the last Assembly polls in a House of 403.

Mr. Ramesh happens to be the first Union Minister to launch an offensive against the Bahujan Samaj Party chief by raising the issue of corruption in the implementation of MGNREGS and proposing a CBI enquiry into the alleged embezzlement of funds.

Ms. Mayawati had objected to it in her letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and accused Mr. Ramesh of indulging in politics.

Mr. Ramesh has been instrumental in drafting the party's vision document for the State, besides the manifesto. His offensive may well be indicative of the stiff relations between the two parties and the unlikelihood of a post-poll alliance in forming the next government in case of a hung House.

He, however, refused to speak on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's visit to the national capital to hold discussions with the Prime Minister, saying that both the Prime Minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi would resolve the issues.

He maintained that there were no problems with Ms. Banerjee regarding proposals relating to his ministries.