Modi is a great campaigner: Margaret Alva

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Chandigarh, Jan 8: Terming the Gujarat election outcome a ''great disappointment'' for the Congress, party general secretary Margaret Alva today said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was a ''great campaigner'' who succeeded in dividing the voter on communal lines.

''It was a one-man campaign and the BJP was nowhere in the state. Modi is a great campaigner and he was able to divide the voters on communal lines. Congress cannot do it,'' Ms Alva said at a Meet-the-Press programme organised by the Chandigarh Press Club here. Modi used the whole issue of ''Gujarati pride'' on his side, she added.

Ms Alva said the election results in Gujarat were a ''great disappointment'' for the Congress. ''We expected to do much better.''' On Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's allegation of a threat to her life from the Congress, she said the charges were ''ridiculous, unwarranted and baseless.'' Regarding Ms Mayawati's threat to withdraw support to the UPA government in the wake of her alleged harassment at the hands of Income Tax department, Ms Alva said ''If the support is on the basis of Income Tax issue, it is untenable.'' On UP CM's demand for SPG security, she said this security was provided only to PMs, former PMs and their families. ''If Ms Mayawati thinks she is entitled for it as she is self-styled Prime Minister in waiting, the Act doesn't provide for it,''

On the possibility of a mid-term Lok Sabha poll, she reiterated Congress president Sonia Gandhi's statement that the party did not want elections but if they were forced by other parties, the Congress was ready to face them. ''If some party or a group of parties forced the elections on us, we have no alternative but to go to the people with the hope to get a clear mandate,'' she said.

Asked why the Congress high command was delaying action against former Haryana party president and MLA Bhajan Lal who had floated a new party, Ms Alva said had Mr Bhajan Lal been expelled from the party, he would have retained his membership of the Vidhan Sabha.

That's why, she said, the party chose to file petitions for disqualification of Vidhan Sabha membership of Mr Bhajan Lal and two other Congress MLAs who participated in the Rohtak rally.

She said a similar petition would be filed by the party for disqualification of Mr Bhajan Lal's son and suspended MP Kuldeep Bishnoi in the Lok Sabha.

However, the party would expel the other Congress leaders who participated in the rally, she added.

Ms Alva refused to comment on the relationship of former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh with Pakistani columnist Aroosa Alam, saying it was his ''personal affair'' and had not any bearing on the party. When her attention was drawn to Capt Amarinder's continued absence from the assembly sessions, she quipped, ''Unki Marzi (It's upto him.)'' Asked why the Congress was not enforcing 'one-man-one-post' principle in case of Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal who was the Leader of Opposition in the Punjab assembly as well as the state party president, she said: ''This is not a permanent arrangement. We will take a decision soon.

Ms Alva, who is party incharge of Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh, addressed a general body meeting of the HPCC at the state party headquarters earlier in the day.

She asked the state Congress unit to maintain unity and disicipline and advised the leaders not to go to the media with their problems ''If you have any problems, they should be resolved within the party fora.'' She said it was also decided that district level committees would be constituted in Haryana to address the grievances of the workers besides the state-level grievance cell where a state minister and a party officer would sit once a week to meet the workers.

UNI

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