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|November 7, 1998||
Fernandes blasts BJP
The Samata Party, a pillar of the ruling coalition at the Centre, has attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party for not sharing seats in the approaching assembly elections.
Party president and Union Defence Minister George Fernandes, who also convenes the coalition's co-ordination committee, minced no words in decrying the Hindutva party.
Party spokesman Digvijay Singh said: "We feel cheated and let down by the way the BJP opted out of poll tie-ups at the eleventh hour."
But his party will continue its support to the coalition.
Singh blamed the government for the unprecedented rise in prices of essential commodities. He admitted that the presence of Samata candidates would lead to a split in non-Congress votes and affect the BJP negatively.
The Congress continued to be his party's "number one enemy", the spokesman added.
The BJP and the Samata have been discussing seat-sharing agreements for the last six months.
Earlier, the Shiromani Akali Dal also opted out of an alliance in Delhi and Rajasthan following its failure to reach an agreement with the BJP. But the Akalis said they would support the BJP candidates in both the states.
Similarly, Commerce Minister Ramakrishna Hegde's Lok Shakti, another member of the coalition, will go it alone in the polls, as the BJP has cold-shouldered its offer for an understanding.
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