Congress rules out early polls, banks on SP, BSP

New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) The Congress Wednesday ruled out early general elections, expressing hope of continued support from the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party, both of which are supporting the UPA government from outside. Party leaders, however, admitted privately that dealing with the two may not be easy.

“The government will complete its full term. Lok Sabha polls will be held in 2014,” Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh told reporters, while Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said the government was confident the SP will support the policies of the UPA.
“There is no threat to the government,” he asserted.
Congress sources said that after the exit of DMK, which has 18 MPs in Lok Sabha, the party’s dependence on the SP (22) and BSP (21) will increase.
“Both parties are known to be tough bargainers. Dealing with them may not be easy now,” a Congress leader confided after the five DMK ministers submitted their resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Congress leaders claimed the government had the support of 278 members in the 503 member Lok Sabha. The half way mark is 273.
The next Lok Sabha election is scheduled in April 2014 but could be advanced to November this year and held along with a slew of assembly polls in case the going gets difficult for the Congress, said party sources.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has been flexing his muscles over the past few months by declaring many candidates for the general elections and repeatedly urging party workers to be prepared for an early poll.
According to poll watchers, Mulayam Singh sees himself as a possible compromise candidate for prime minister in case a third front government is cobbled up after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in case the two major alliances fail to achieve a majority on their own.
Congress ally National Conference also feels the general elections could be advanced.
“Dealing with SP and BSP will not be hassle free. I think the general elections could be held along with the assembly polls this winter,” an NC MP told IANS.