Finance minister terms opposition alliance in northern India ‘opportunistic’

STORY: Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday (February 14) targeted opposition parties’ alliance in poll-bound northern Uttar Pradesh state, terming it an alliance of “necessity”.

Main opposition Congress party and regional Samajwadi (Socialist) Party (SP) are jointly contesting elections in the state.

“This is clear that the alliance forged by Congress party and the regional Samajwadi (socialist) Party is one of the biggest opportunist alliance. This is rare in the history of the country. This is an alliance of necessity,” said Jaitley, during a news conference in northern Lucknow city.

The first phase of polling in country’s most populous state was held on Saturday (February 04) with the province recording around 64 percent of voter turnout.

The world’s biggest election this year in Uttar Pradesh will elect an assembly to govern the impoverished state of nearly 220 million people.

Broadly, the state polls will also deliver a mid-term verdict on Modi and his nationalist party after his decision to withdraw 86 percent of the cash in circulation.

The banknote ban was launched by Modi three months ago to purge the economy of untaxed income and the proceeds of crime and corruption, and has disrupted daily life and commerce, and caused the economy to slow.

The country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) polled 42 percent of the vote in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 election, winning 71 of 80 seats on its way to claiming India’s biggest national mandate for three decades.

The seven-phase polls are set to end on March 08.

Results from Uttar Pradesh, along with elections in the states of Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur, are due on March 11.




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