UP polls: Punia sure of Cong win in 45 SC seats
TNN | Feb 14, 2012, 05.04AM IST
NEW DELHI: Congress MP P L Punia dismissed talks of being an
"outsider" in Uttar Pradesh, saying he had spent 45 years in the state
and was known in its all corners for his pro-people work as an IAS
Punia's assertion about his domicile came in the wake of Union
minister and in-house detractor Beni Prasad Verma calling him an
"outsider". Punia is from Haryana but moved base to the state four
decades ago. "People in UP know me. I even got married here, my only
daughter was married there. I have houses in Lucknow and Barabanki. I
contested 2007 assembly polls from Barabanki, lost narrowly, and then
won Lok Sabha polls by over 1.5 lakh votes," he said, presenting his
credentials as a son-of-the-soil.
Verma created a flutter by saying that "Punia was an outsider and had
come from Punjab". The statement just before the first phase of
election exposed the infighting in Congress.
The chairman of National Commission for SCs seems to have attracted
Verma's wrath because of his attempt to stand his own during ticket
distribution. The steel minister managed to sway the nominations in
many constituencies, while Punia apparently failed.
But Punia has his standing as a key anti-Mayawati face in Congress,
having served her as principal secretary thrice besides being a dalit
himself, a fact that has riled many within.
Asserting his USP, Punia said Congress would win 40-45 of 85 reserved
seats, claiming that disenchanted SCs would desert BSP in this
election. "Dalits have decided to shed the tag of being BSP's bonded
labour. They kept waiting for development and welfare for five years
under Mayawati, but only got increased atrocities with government
protection and corruption," he told reporters.
Punia, along with party MP Ashok Tanwar, are in-charge of Mission 85,
a campaign plan for the reserved seats. The
bureaucrat-turned-politician asserted that the EC decision to drape
statues and elephants would not impact the dalit mood against BSP.
"Ambedkar did not have elephant as symbol, nor was he enamoured of
riding one. Elephant is not related to dalit pride," he said.
He said Mayawati had heaped the biggest insult on dalit pride by
replacing Ambedkar statue to install her own in Lucknow. "That day BSP
brought down its tally below 100 seats," he said.
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