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Sonia Gandhi to kickstart campaign from Davangere

March 20, 2009 12:20 IST

Senior Congress leader, Jayanti Natarajan said that the Indian National Congress will contest 26 seats in Bihar. She was addressing a press conference at Bengaluru on Friday.

Natarajan also went on to state that the Congress does not approve of the step taken by Rashtriya Janata Dal leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav but also maintained that the Congress is in constant touch with all its United Progressive Alliance allies. To a question whether Sonia Gandhi was holding talks with Lalu Yadav, she replied in the negative.

Regarding the talks Lalu Yadav had with Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday, Jayanti said that it is an internal matter of the two parties and she did not wish to comment on it.

Jayanti termed the statements made by Varun Gandhi as unfortunate but also added that what is more disheartening is that none of the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders had bothered to condemn the statements. She also added that the Election Commission of India has to decide whether the tapes were doctored or not and it was not for the Congress to comment on that. However these unfortunate statements not only reflect on Varun Gandhi but on the BJP as a whole.

The leader said that the list of candidates to be fielded by the Congress for the forthcoming elections will be out shortly. "We are not waiting for anyone to come out with their list and then decide on ours. The delay in announcing the list of candidates will not hurt the Congress and neither does it give our leaders any less time to prepare for the elections. Unlike the rest of the parties, our party leaders have been preparing since the past five years. We are not afraid that the BJP has come out with its list before us and neither does it give them any advantage. In fact I would say that the BJP has lost the elections even before it has started,"  Natarajan claimed.

Natarajan said that Sonia Gandhi will kickstart the Congress campaign from Davangere on March 23. The Bharat Nirman campaign of the Congress will focus on the common man unlike the India Shining campaign which targeted only the wealthy.

Regarding Karnataka, Jayanti said that they will urge the EC to keep a special watch on this state. Karnataka which was on the world map for its service industry and IT has been dragged into the muck thanks to the Mangalore incident. "We all watched what happened and how the state machinery collapsed. Hence we will ask the EC to give special attention to Karnataka," Natarajan claimed.

Regarding the Chief Minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa, she said that he has created a conflict situation with the Centre. He has cancelled on two meetings with the Home Minister and it is not right on his part to politicize issues such as terror and safety of the people.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru