The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are not into talks on a post-poll alliance in case they fail to get a majority on their own in Uttar Pradesh, says BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman.
"Right now, we are in the thick of the poll campaign. If we get a mandate, we will provide an accountable and efficient administration. Otherwise, we will sit in the opposition," Sitharaman said in an interview with IANS.
"We are not negotiating any post-poll tie-up with the BSP," she said when asked whether the parties were planning an alliance.
Sitharaman's statement comes amidst speculation in political circles and media reports that leaders of the BJP and the BSP are in secret contact about a tie-up if the post-poll scenario warranted it in order to block a Samajwadi Party (SP)-led government.
She said the BJP was focussing on the issue of development in the hotly contested assembly polls. "And we are getting good response," she claimed.
According to the BJP leader, the feedback from the first two phases of the polls in Uttar Pradesh was "encouraging".
She denied reports of bitter infighting in the BJP state unit or disappointment among the cadres over the leadership of Uma Bharti, who hails from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.
"These are usual dissents in a democratic party. Nothing more than it. All people may not be happy with candidates' selection. Some dissidence erupts in every election which will subside."
According to Sitharaman, the reports of resistance to Uma Bharti's leadership role and candidature from the state were "highly exaggerated and baseless".
"Umaji is no outsider, as she belongs to the Bundelkhand region, which extends to the current Madhya Pradesh. Leaders from outside states in-charge of UP or other states is not an unusual practice."
"Even Sucheta Kripalani, the first woman chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, did not belong to the state," Sitharaman pointed out. (Sucheta was born in Haryana in a Bengali family and married to veteran nationalist leader of Uttar Pradesh, Acharya Kripalani).
Regarding the impact of Rahul Gandhi in the Uttar Pradesh campaign, Sitharamn said: "Let us wait and watch. Rahul Gandhi had rarely spoken in parliament. Now that he has begun making speeches in election meetings, one has to wait for the impact."
"Mostly, Rahul's speeches reflect absurd thoughts, without any bearing on the real issues of corruption or scandals under the UPA government."
Asked about the party putting up just one Muslim candidate in the state which has 403 MLA seats and Muslims account for 18% of the population, she said: "Candidates are selected on the basis of merit, winnability and through a proper process of screening. Not on the basis of religion or caste."
"The fact remains that there is no discrimination against Muslims in the BJP," Sitharaman added.