Cong welcomes May elections in K'taka

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Bangalore, Apr 2 (UNI) The Congress, which had initially opposed early elections in Karnataka, today welcomed the Election Commission's announcement to hold the assembly polls in three phases in May.

Speaking to UNI, KPCC President Mallikarjuna Kharge said the party welcomed the decision of the Election Commission and was fully geared to face the polls. It was confident of winning a majority.

''We hope the people of Karnataka will not again give a fractured mandate like they did during the 2004 elections. This led to lot of problems and we had seen the pitfalls of forging coalitions in Karnataka. I appeal to them to elect a single party to power,'' he said.

Mr Kharge urged the EC to ensure elections were held in a free and fair manner and without any bias.

''It should also ensure that money, muscle and liquor power does not have any say in the poll outcome,'' he said.

He said two-phase elections would have been sufficient but the EC had decided on three phases.

''The EC's decision is okay with us anyway,'' he added.

Former Chief Minister and Senior Congress Leader N Dharam Singh also welcomed the EC's announcement of the dates for elections to the Karnataka Assembly.

''The Congress is well prepared to face the challenge and come back to power,'' Mr Singh added.

Earlier today, the Election Commission had announced that polls would be held for the Karnataka Assembly on May 10, 16 and 22.

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