For political parties, new year is all about elections


New Delhi : Political parties in India step into 2009 with their fingers crossed as they brace for the upcoming general elections after a chequered year that saw polls in several states, terror strikes and divisive issues like the India-US nuclear deal.

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Be it the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) or the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the major parties have a variety of resolutions for the new year, all focussing on the general election to the 543-member Lok Sabha.

* Congress has a task at hand:

The Congress, which heads the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, faces the toughest challenge given that it was driven to the corner by several terror attacks, including the daring strike on the country’s commercial capital Mumbai, and inflation.

Congress spokesperson and minister of state for home affairs Shakeel Ahmad said: “One of the foremost resolutions of the Congress for the new year is to win the Lok Sabha elections so that the development works undertaken by the UPA government can be completed.”

Fighting terrorism and providing a safe and secure future to the citizens of the country figure prominently among the resolutions of the party, he said.

“We will also pursue the Women’s Reservation Bill and the Prevention of Communal Violence bill in this year,” Ahmad told IANS.

* BJP sees its opportunity

The BJP, which leads the National Democratic Alliance, smells its victory with several issues lined up against the Congress-led government.

“Security, prosperity and progress — these are the resolutions of the BJP in the new year,” said party vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

“This is an election year. There are a lot of issues to be addressed.”

According to Naqvi, the NDA “is a strong alternative” to the Congress-led UPA.

“There are a lot of expectations among the people from the BJP. We promise a terror-free, corruption-free government while ensuring peace and development in the country.”

* CPI-M wants an independent third force

With its relations with the Congress under strain, the CPI-M, the principal left outfit in the country, has resolved to create a third force, bereft of the Congress and the BJP.

“We will try to form a third alternative to the Congress and the BJP at the national level,” said the party’s politburo member M.K. Pandhe.

He said the party would intensify its fight against the policies of the Congress-led government, which paved the way for price rise, unemployment and job cuts in both urban and rural areas of the country.

Poor service conditions at the work places and low wages are also the issues to be addressed, he said.

“We will mobilise the working class to fight against the injustice meted out to them in the name of economic meltdown,” added Pandhe, who is also the president of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).

Pandhe said the CPI-M would continue its protest against the India-US civilian nuclear deal.

* BSP, the ambitious regional player

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s BSP is amongst the most ambitious regional parties and hopes to emerge kingmaker after the elections.

Ever since the party won the 2007 assembly elections in the country’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh and formed its own government – a feat no party had achieved there in 16 years – Mayawati has been nurturing the wish to be prime minister.

“Winning the Lok Sabha election and seeing Mayawati as the prime minister of the country is the most important resolution of the party for new year,” said Mitrasen Yadav, the party’s Lok Sabha MP from Faizabad constituency in Uttar Pradesh.

“We want to provide a better future for all the sections of society with special focus on the downtrodden,” he said.

* Samajwadi Party’s litmus test

Samajwadi Party, the chief opposition party in Uttar Pradesh, has been smarting after its defeat in the 2007 assembly election to the BSP.

The party recognises that this election is crucial for its political survival in Uttar Pradesh and the country since the state has the highest 80 seats in the Lok Sabha.

“Our most important resolution is to successfully fight the biggest challenge in the form of Lok Sabha elections,” said Kamal Akhter, the party’s Rajya Sabha member.

“The Samajwadi Party is looking forward to win 50 of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh so that we can have a positive impact in politics both at the centre and in the state.”

Providing effective leadership and contributing to good governance to ensure the country scaled new height of development devoid of terrorism is its other resolution.