Exuding confidence, Akhilesh, son of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh, said on Monday that the party would be able to form a government on its own, given the hard work put in by its workers. He, however, made it clear that “Netaji” — the name by which Mulayam Singh is popularly referred to — would be the next Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
Addressing journalists in Lucknow, Mr. Akhilesh said: “the name of the leader will be decided by the legislature party… Netaji is the popular choice.”
“Netaji,” on his part, kept his own counsel on government formation, telling journalists: “I will speak on March 6.” Of the party leaders he met on Monday was the new general secretary, Anuradha Chaudhary, a recent entrant from the Rashtriya Lok Dal. Almost all senior SP leaders have started arriving in Lucknow ahead of the counting.
Pradesh Congress Committee president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who is also the party's candidate from Lucknow Cantonment, met counting agents and booth-level party workers at her residence through the day. If the Congress was unable to form the government, it would sit in the opposition, she said, a day after rejecting Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma's suggestion that the Congress go in for a tie-up with the Bahujan Samaj Party.
On Monday, with the exit polls placing the Congress at the bottom of the charts, Dr. Joshi was already telling journalists that if the party did not do well, it was she, the State unit and the candidates who would be held responsible, not the party's star campaigner, Rahul Gandhi.
In Delhi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi returned from abroad after undergoing a medical check-up, in time for the declaration of the election results.
The story has been corrected for spelling errors.