Special Correspondent

Will have no bearing on Centre's decision, says Congress

NEW DELHI: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has welcomed the Election Commission's announcement of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly poll schedule, while the Congress said it would have no bearing on any decision of the Centre to impose President's rule in the State.

CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat was of the view that it should put an end to the talk of conduct of free and fair elections in the State.

The CPI (M) which had conveyed its opposition to any move to bring the State under Central rule, felt that the Uttar Pradesh Government should help the EC take all necessary steps for conduct of the elections in a free and fair manner.

`Not subservient'

Senior Congress leader Devendra Dwivedi said the announcement of the poll schedule was not linked to any decision the Centre could take on invoking Article 356.

Mr. Dwivedi said the EC was not expected to take note of the political activity and that the poll body had the powers under Article 324 to take a decision on conducting the polls. "Article 356 is not subservient to Article 324,'' Mr. Dwivedi, a former Additional Solicitor General said.

CPI national secretary D. Raja said that while his party was not for use of Article 356, it held the view that the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav should have resigned on moral grounds after the decision of the Supreme Court, disqualifying 13 legislators of the Bahujan Samaj Party who had extended support to the Samajwadi Party-led Government.

He said with the EC announcing the poll schedule, the matter would have to be fought on political grounds.

PTI reports:

``We welcome it [election announcement]," BJP chief Rajnath Singh told reporters after a party meeting at the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee's residence here.

``Our stand is the same as before,'' he said when asked whether his party would seek the use of Article 356 in Uttar Pradesh after the announcement of the election schedule.

Two days after Mr. Singh threw his weight behind the Congress for President's rule in Uttar Pradesh, his party added conditions to his pledged support earlier, saying it would not accept delay in the Assembly elections.

``The BJP will strongly oppose any design of the Congress to usurp power in Uttar Pradesh through the instrument of President's rule and then prolong it,'' party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said.