Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday said his party will not get a simple majority in the Lok Sabha polls, but a new government will be formed under its leadership at the Centre, dislodging the BJP-led NDA.
The former Maharashtra chief minister also said that the decision of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), led by Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar, not to align with the opposition parties will eventually prove beneficial for the NDA.
The Congress and NCP had been wooing the VBA to join forces with them in Maharashtra.
However, the VBA, a social coalition of Dalits and Muslims jointly formed by Ambedkar and Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), recently decided to field its own candidates for the Lok Sabha polls.
“We are not going to get a clear majority. No party got 270 seats in 30 years (before 2014). Is (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi claiming so (that BJP will get majority) now?” Chavan asked.
“Some of their (the BJP’s) people are saying so…I won’t say how many seats the Congress will get, but the next government will be formed under the leadership of Congress. We are not claiming to get 270 seats, but the Congress-led government will be formed,” Chavan said during an interaction with BBC News Marathi.
He also claimed that the BJP would suffer in the “cow belt”, comprising mainly Hindi heartland states, and get 100 seats less vis–vis the 2014 polls.
Chavan said the opposition parties initially planned to form a grand alliance at the national-level, but later opted for state-level tie-ups to prevent the BJP from retaining power at the Centre.
The former Union minister also noted that not taking the VBA along will affect prospects of the Congress-led opposition in Maharashtra.
“It will definitely have a bearing on the Congress’ prospects. But why they are not coming together needs to be seen,” he said, adding that the BJP won the last general election due to division of votes among opposition parties.
Chavan claimed it was the BJP’s effort to see as many opposition parties field their candidates against its contenders to ensure division of votes.
“The VBA contesting separately will 100 per cent help the BJP (in the polls),” he added.
Chavan refrained from commenting on his party colleague Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil’s son Sujay Vikhe Patil joining the BJP, after the NCP refused to give the Ahmednagar Lok Sabha seat to the Congress under the alliance pact.
“There are several seats where we (the Congress) can win if we were to contest those. The NCP knows it well, so do we. But it is not happening due to certain reasons,” he said.
Chavan also claimed that the Congress could have won the Ahmednagar seat if it contested.