After an early morning faux pas in Kanpur led to an outcry among parties, including his own, Union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal explained himself in Agra in the evening.
“Those who lack confidence are looking for alliances. Congress will not forge any alliance. If the Congress gets a majority then it will form the government. If some seats are short then there is no option other than President’s rule,” Jaiswal told reporters after casting his vote on Thursday morning.
The comment elicited a volley of reactions from all quarters. “What the Union minister seems to be advocating is a misuse of a constitutional provision,” said BJP leader LK Advani.
The Samajwadi Party said the Congress had conceded defeat and firebrand BJP leader Uma Bharati said Jaiswal had extended a veiled threat to the UP voter. Amid reports that the EC had taken note of his remarks, the Congress ticked off Jaiswal. “We are in the running to form the government. All Congressmen should desist from speculation,” party spokesperson Manish Tewari said in New Delhi.
Left with little option, Jaiswal retracted later saying he had only talked of the constitutional possibilities. “I have expressed my confidence that the Congress would gain absolute majority or would form the government as the single largest party. However, if situations get worst there still are other options in the constitution, including imposition of President’s rule in routine course,” said Jaiswal at a rally in Agra.
He said the media had wrongly interpreted his statement.
Jaiswal was in the city of the Taj along with Union health minister Gulam Nabi Azad to rally support for Congress-RLD candidate Nazeer Ahmed from Agra South constituency.