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Parties welcome poll schedule, exude confidence

Amid pandemic curbs, SP, BSP want EC to ensure level playing field on digital platforms, monitoring of poll code violations by BJP

Political parties across the spectrum on Saturday welcomed the announcement of the poll schedule for the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

While the BJP president J.P. Nadda expressed confidence that his party will win with big margins, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the elections are “an opportunity” to defeat the BJP and put an end to unemployment, price rise and atrocities against women and Dalits.

Home Minister Amit Shah took to Twitter to expresses his confidence that the people will give the BJP an opportunity to serve them again and appealed to “the people of these States to elect a government that contributes to the progress of the State and the progress of the country”.

Welcoming the ECI guidelines of holding polls under COVID guidelines, Mr. Shah said, “The BJP under the leadership of @narendramodi ji is committed to have a healthy and safe elections”.

Also read: News Analysis | Six reasons why five State elections will influence Indian politics

Of the five poll-bound States, the BJP is in power in four — U.P., Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur — while in Punjab, it has allied with former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s outfit and a faction of the Akali Dal.

While every Assembly election will be an important test for the parties, the results of U.P., that has 80 Lok Sabha seats, will be the most crucial as the Assembly polls could well set the agenda for the 2024 general elections.

In a series of tweets, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief and former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav claimed that the counting day of March 10 will see a “revolution and change”.

“We welcome the announcement of dates for the U.P. polls. People of the State have been waiting for March 10 to say goodbye to the BJP,” Mr. Yadav said.

The SP chief also appealed to the ECI that it should ensure a level-playing field for the regional parties on digital platforms where the BJP dominates not only because of its financial heft but also because it is in power at the Centre as well in the State.

Taking to Twitter, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati said, “The tendency of the ruling party [the BJP] to violate the model code of conduct by adopting new tactics in every election is becoming fatally common. It needs to be given due attention and prompt action is taken in this election. It is a special appeal to the Election Commission”.

While Sukhbir Badal of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), that has tied up with the BSP for the Punjab polls, expressed confidence of being voted to power, Aam Admi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal, who has emerged as the biggest challenger to the established players in the State, asserted that AAP is ready for the battle.

Addressing an online press conference, Congress’ Surjewala said the adverse election results are the only thing that the BJP is scared of.

“This is a chance to defeat the BJP as well as price rise and inflation. Farmers also have a chance to punish those who retained a union minister despite his and his son’s involvement in the mowing down of farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri. The youth also have a chance to defeat the BJP and unemployment. Defeat the BJP and unemployment with vote ki chot [cause hurt with a vote] . Our women also have a chance to defeat the BJP over the atrocities and rising crime against women as well as Dalits in these five states,” he said.

Derek O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress, that is contesting in Goa as a serious player, said, “With elections in full swing, the Budget session will be out of focus. This is Modi’s gameplan: Make Parliament irrelevant so he is accountable to no one”.

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