The Congress would emerge as the “number one party” in the Karnataka Assembly elections, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said on Sunday, taking a swipe at the BJP for mobilising the “entire central machinery” for state campaigns.
He also said the understanding between the BJP and his party for the upcoming Legislative Council polls in Maharashtra didn’t mean the Sena would forge an alliance with it in the Lok Sabha and assembly elections in 2019.
“Whenever there are assembly polls, the entire central machinery and chief ministers of all BJP-ruled states go there (to campaign), leaving the administration of the country and of their own states in the lurch. The country is watching all this,” Raut told agencies in an interview.
Slamming Yogi Adityanath, the Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP said the seriousness with which the Uttar Pradesh chief minister took his duties became evident when he was seen campaigning in Karnataka while his own state reeled under a dust storm.
“Does the central leadership (of the BJP) not trust its own men in states? Why does Prime Minister Narendra Modi need to address dozens of campaign rallies when he is needed in Delhi to govern the country?” asked Raut, whose party is in alliance with the BJP in Maharashtra and at the Centre.
Though an ally, the Sena has been continuously criticising the BJP and its governments in states and at the Centre.
“There is a ‘dust storm’ in Karnataka on Sunday. Once it clears, the Congress will emerge as the number one party. People have started listening to Rahul Gandhi now,” Raut added.
Asked if the understanding between the Sena and the BJP for May 21 Maharashtra Legislative Council elections was an indication that the bickering allies may join hands in the assembly and Lok Sabha polls, Raut replied in the negative.
The BJP and the Sena have agreed to contest three seats each in the elections to six local authorities constituencies in the upper house of the Maharashtra legislature.
“This arrangement is due to the sentiments of the local leadership of both the parties. Also, we are fielding candidates in three seats where the Sena has a strong presence,” Raut said.
“This doesn’t, in any way, mean we will have an alliance in 2019. The party is firm on the decision taken by Sena president Uddhav Thackeray that we will fight (future) elections on our own,” Raut asserted.
“The Sena will win a majority in 2019 and the next chief minister will be of our party,” he added.
Raut, who is the executive editor of Shiv Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, also claimed the BJP had not won a single election in the Northeast on its own.
It formed governments in the region through the politics of “jod-tod”, he said.
“Take the case of Meghalaya or Arunachal Pradesh. The BJP would not have formed governments there had it not allied with local parties. So, it was on the strength of other parties that it came to power. The BJP would not have won in Tripura had there been an alliance between the Congress and the TMC,” the Sena MP said.