As BJP braces for an adverse verdict from the Election Commission on the controversial anti-Muslim CD issue, former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee has refused to be drawn into making any public comment on the crisis faced by the party.
The EC is due to resume hearing on Wednesday on the demand made by the Congress, BSP and the Jan Morcha for de-recognising the saffron party and freezing its lotus symbol.
Vajpayee on Tuesday refused to make any comment on the issue but exuded confidence about his party's prospects in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.
Denying that he had any differences over selection of candidates for the elections, Vajpayee said, "I don't have any question about the candidates (selection). I support everybody. I will support everybody and I want them to win." Vajpayee was speaking to BJP MCD Councillors who had gone to his residence to seek his blessings after emerging victorious in the recent civic polls.
A key BJP strategist said the party would begin its arguments before the EC on Wednesday by pressing for acceptance of its plea that Election Commissioner Naveen Chawla withdraw himself from hearing the case as the Supreme Court is hearing a petition against his appointment of party leader Jaswant Singh.
The BJP will also argue that its symbol cannot be frozen in the middle of the election process in UP. "Already, filing of nominations for six phases of the polls are over. The notification for the seventh round will start from April 13. How can you keep out one political party?" he asked.
As for the petitions filed by the Congress, Jan Morcha and the BSP which have sought the BJP's de-recognition, the BJP's contention is that, though it was a mistake on its part that an "unauthorized" CD got released, the EC had no power to cancel its registration as demanded by its opponents.
The BJP will cite the case of Arjun Singh vs BJP in 1992, in which the EC had already held that there was no such power with the EC to cancel or withdraw the registration of a political party.
Besides, the BJP said, the Supreme Court had also held that there was no power to cancel the registration of a political party once it was granted. The only exception to this provision was when a party had attained the registration by fraud or forgery, it said denying all the contents in the materials placed by the BSP.
The BJP continue to hold that it had already informed the EC that it had not produced, prepared, displayed or distributed the impugned CD, which was not been approved by the BJP leadership and it was not a part of the party's election campaign.
"One thing we want to make clear very categorically that BJP is not on a collision course with the Election Commission," Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, senior BJP leader and spokesman, told mediapersons in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Naqvi said the party has "always respected the constitutional authority and was as much concerned about its prestige as any one."
Naqvi also sought to clarify that the remarks of senior party leaders in Lucknow on Monday were not directed against the Chief Election Commission, but the state election commission.