Oscar belittles UNC's poll clout
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 18: Dismissing the ongoing campaign of the United Naga Council (UNC) against national and regional political parties while projecting candidates, Union Minister Oscar Fernandes categorically remarked that the campaign would not diminish people's confidence on Congress party.

"Any organisation, individual or group can do what they want but you have a Government at the State level and specially during elections, the Election Commission is in charge of all.

It is their duty to protect the rights of the people who want to exercise their franchise", said the Congress leader during a press meet today at Congress Bhavan.

Nevertheless, he noted that it was up to the people whether to buckle down under pressure and threat or to go ahead to exercise their franchise.

Saying that video cameras would be fixed in all polling stations, Oscar maintained that such arrangements would certainly help in controlling malpractices such as booth capturing as the sophisticated EVMs can display every details of the polls.

To a query concerning performance of Congress in the eleven Naga dominated Assembly segments and the ongoing UNC campaign, the Union Minister said, "Our people are quite confident of winning the elections on their own.

We may still have the strength and our people feel that we will be returned to power with full majority".

Regarding their coalition partner CPI which is also any ally of Congress at the Centre, Oscar said, "It is for them also to carry on as a friend.

But till the elections we are fighting on our own and they on their own".

To another question regarding the reliability of CPI in future, he quipped, "Let us finish the elections first".

Commenting on the strong protest raised by Congress workers over the issue of granting party tickets, Oscar remarked that it was a welcome development.

He said that whenever there was enthusiasm there was competition.

"This is an indicator that the party is popular and the workers active", he observed adding that there would be certain difficulties in issuing tickets and such problem is common to all popular parties.

However, he flayed the alleged ransacking of Congress office by enthusiastic workers demanding party tickets for their leaders.

"No violence is appreciable and we expect discipline within the organisational set-up," Oscar said while disclosing that the subsequent list of candidates would be announced at the appropriate time according to the poll schedule.

He further informed that election manifesto of the party would be released soon.

To a question, Oscar Fernandes who represents the Government of India in the peace parleys with NSCN (IM), disclosed that the next round of talks would be possibly held after the polls.

He observed that the outfit is taking keen interest on the elections.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and AICC president Sonia Gandhi and many other Congress leaders are expected to arrive at Imphal in the first week of February to join election campaign in the State, he mentioned.

After a meeting with Seva Dal and State executives of the party about the poll preparations, Oscar left Imphal this afternoon.

MPCC president Gaikhangam who also attended the meeting said that the party would kick-start campaign in full gear in all the hill districts including Naga dominated constituencies.