New Delhi/Lucknow: With exit polls predicting a hung assembly in Uttar Pradesh, Beni Prasad Verma, Union Minister and senior Congress leader from the state, on Sunday caused a flutter in the party by favouring a tie-up with Mayawati's BSP, a comment from which the party quickly distanced itself.
Verma, who quit Samajwadi Party in 2007 following differences with Mulayam Singh Yadav, said he would personally prefer BSP to SP, which he dubbed as a "party of goons".
"The key to form the state government is with Congress and Congress for sure will form the government. If we have to form an alliance,I would personally prefer BSP. SP is a party of goons...BSP is a party of Dalits," he said.
Getting into a damage-control mode, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said, "Whatever Verma said was his personal opinion. The party high command will take a decision after taking into account all the aspects only after results are out on March 6."
In Lucknow, state Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi too said Verma's remarks were his personal view. "We will stake claim to form the government if we get majority, otherwise we will prefer to sit in the opposition," she said.
She said the results would be different from what has been shown in the exit polls which had placed SP in the No.1 position followed by BSP, BJP and Congress.
In Bhopal, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh trashed the results thrown up by the exit polls, predicting "astonishing" gains for the party in UP.
Asked whether he was ruling out any tie-up between Congress and BSP, Alvi said, "I do not want to answer a hypothetical question. Wait for results. Congress will take a decision when results are out and we are hopeful that results will be in our favour."
Verma's views have been rejected as personal by UP Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tiwari too.