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Poll outcome not a referendum on Singh government

By Staff
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New Delhi, Apr 19 (UNI) The Congress today said the outcome of the assembly elections in four states and one Union territory could not be taken as a referendum on the performance of the two-year-old UPA government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Centre.

''The image of Prime Minister Singh, the excellent performance of the UPA government and the work done by Party President Sonia Gandhi will certainly have impact in the elections. However, the poll outcome could not be taken as a referendum on the central government's performance,'' AICC spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan told mediapersons here.

Claiming that the party's feedback suggested that the Congress or the coalitions led by it would form governments in Asom, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry, she said there was ''no fight at all'' in Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat where Sonia Gandhi is seeking re-election.

Ms Natarajan, however, said the party did not hope to end the more than two-decade rule by the Left in West Bengal.

She said Ms Gandhi was poised to form the by-election with a record margin in the history of elections in the country. ''This is the feedback we have received after she filed the nomination papers yesterday.'' Ms Natarajan said it was unfortunate that the BJP could not find a ''proper candidate'' against Ms Gandhi. ''The BJP candidate is expected to face defeat not only at the hands of Ms Gandhi but also at the hands of the candidate put up by expelled BJP leader Uma Bharti,'' she said.

She said the party was fully confident on forming its governments in Asom and Pondicherry.

In Tamil Nadu, the DPA aliance of which the Congress is a major partner will sweep the elections, she arrested.

In this context, she pointed out that Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who first mocked at DMK Chief M Karunanidhi for his announcement of rice for Rs two a kg, had now announced free 10 kg rice to all ration card holders. ''If Ms Jayalithaa is sure that she would be able to implement the scheme announced by her, why did she not do the same as Chief Minister before the elections,'' she sought to know, adding that Ms Jayalalithaa had said that the scheme announced by Mr Karunanidhi was not economically feasible.

''It is strange for a Chief Minister to mock at and ridicule the politically opposite side and copy the same. This is a virtual admission of her defeat,'' Ms Natarajan noted.

In Kerala as well, the Congress was sure to return to power for the second time as there was emphatic response during the campaign of Ms Gandhi in the state in support of the ruling Congress-led front candidates yesterday, Ms Natarajan said.

''In West Bengal, we are confident of a good performance,'' she said.

UNI SH VD KP1837

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