Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan credited NCP chief Sharad Pawar for the Congress-NCP’s “cohesive and united” poll campaign and expressed confidence that the ruling alliance will better its tally of 25 seats in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.
“I think the credit must be given to Pawar and his team. We, on our part, have realised that we must be cohesive to fight this election together, without bringing in our differences, which occur when we fight local elections,” Chavan said.
“This time, I think, in a very long, long time, the Congress party is fighting as one man. Out of the total 48 constituencies, there are some issues in three or four constituencies, although nothing very serious which cannot be addressed,” he said.
“We are still trying to make sure that people work together and cohesively. We (Congress and NCP) have been touring each others’ constituencies, holding joint meetings.
“Pawar joined the meeting addressed by Soniaji. I have been going to NCP candidates’ constituencies. He has been coming to our constituencies. I think we have projected a very united and cohesive image,” Chavan said.
Asked about his projection as far as the Congress-NCP tally in the state in this Lok Sabha election is concerned, he said, “I have never given any prediction of numbers in any of the elections which I have led. So I won’t venture into numbers, although we have our internal assessment.”
“From the results which I have got from the field, I think we will certainly be able to better our tally,” he said.
“There is a challenge (from opposition Shiv Sena-BJP-led alliance). I won’t use the word threat,” the senior Congress leader said
“Also, the fact that there have been instances of corruption exposed, the birth of the Aam Aadmi Party, the agitation by Anna Hazare–that is one challenge,” he said.
“The technique used by (BJP’s prime ministerial nominee) Narendra Modi, of saturating media with advertisements, is another challenge. No challenge in an election can be taken lightly. The Congress party would not like to take it lightly,” the chief minister said.
Asked if the “Modi wave” will benefit BJP, Chavan said, “I don’t see any Modi wave at all. Because there is no substance in it, but a lot of hype. People were carted to the meetings to create a large crowd.
“It is just like, when a film star comes, people go and attend the rally but that doesn’t get converted into votes. So I don’t think Modi’s rallies will get converted into votes,” Chavan said.
“Modi has offered nothing concrete. There is no alternate vision at all. He feebly tried to project the Gujarat model as the vision. Even an opportunity to project a strong, rock- solid vision in the manifesto was squandered away because of internal bickering,” he said.
“They (BJP) are not clear whether to put the Hindutva agenda in the forefront or not. The way the senior BJP leadership was sidetracked completely…,I think there is an ideological vacuum within that party.
“BJP and Modi have chosen to ignore their oldest ally Shiv Sena, by not inviting the Sena leaders to share the stage, (and also) allowing a secret understanding with MNS behind Sena’s back.
“They seem to be telling MNS that you (MNS) may go ahead and contest and defeat Shiv Sena candidates but don’t defeat our (BJP) candidates,” Chavan said.
“I think there is a huge question mark on the relevance and credibility of MNS. Also, how much more insults will Shiv Sena tolerate?” the chief minister said.
So, I think they are where they are. There is a space perhaps to protect the interests of the “sons of the soil”, the Marathi people and that’s why they will get some support. But as a political party, as an alternate formation which can take over the governance of Maharashtra, they have failed,” he said.