Sandesh Kondvilkar is the former Member of Legislative Council in Maharashtra who had played a vital role in bringing amendments in the anti-rape law. He was the chairman of LIDCOM which is equivalent to the rank of the Minister of State. He remains accessible to the common man and works for their welfare. Sandesh Kondvilkar, a Nationalist Congress Party member speaks about Maharashtra politics, Mahayuti, dynasty politics and his relation with Congress party in a conversation with our Deputy Editor Najmul Hasan Rizvi.
The Congress-NCP alliance has fought previous election by adopting the 26:22 seat sharing formula. However, this time the Congress was pressurising the NCP to follow the 29:19 formula. Don’t you think that party was blackmailing the NCP by demanding more seats?
No it’s not true. When political parties are forming alliance it means that they lack numbers to form the government. Today, no political party possess mandate to form single party government at the centre or state. Shiv Shakti (Shiv Sena & BJP) and Bhim Shakti (RPI) alliance had formed the ‘Mahayuti’ and Congress and NCP are a part of the ‘Democratic Alliance’. Every party is keen to gain more seats as compared to its alliance partner so it might be pressure tactics but definitely not blackmailing. Our leader Sharad Pawar wanted to retain the old seat sharing formula. He could have definitely asked equal number of seats for both parties as trust factor plays a vital role in politics. Pawar Saheb is pursuing factual politics and once he commits for something then he won’t backtrack on that.
Is the conflict which had arisen between parties in the aftermath of seat-sharing deadlock good for politics?
It sets a bad precedent in politics. Nobody will trust you if you backtrack from your statements. The 29:19 formula is not acceptable for NCP.
However, the Congress was demanding more seats due to lacklustre performance of NCP in the 2009 election?
Our performance might have been dismal in the previous election but we have fared better than Congress in the 2004 general and assembly elections. The NCP had won 71 seats while Congress could only manage 69 seats in that year. Despite this we didn’t demand the post of Chief Minister from the Congress.
There are reports that local members are averse to NCP forming an alliance with the Congress?
It’s the opinion of those workers operating at the grassroots level. The candidate who contests election is aware that he can’t win without the assistance of other parties. However, there are many constituencies in western Maharashtra where NCP can fight election alone while the party becomes a direct competitor of Congress in many other constituencies. When we form an alliance with other parties then seats are alloted to their candidates. As a result of this, party workers feel disappointed hence they are not in favour of having alliance with other parties. If same situation continues to prevail then coalition government is the way forward as no party is able to get clear mandate today.
Gopinath Munde had alleged that Sharad Pawar was keen to join BJP after his expulsion from the Congress party. Is it true? Munde also had said that he was responsible for resisting Pawar’s entry into BJP?
Pawar is a secular face and everyone is aware that BJP is a communal party. According to me, Munde is only making irresponsible statements which are not backed by evidence. He is a rebellion leader, and he has already turned a rebel thrice against his party. Neither senior leaders nor junior members of the party respect him from Beed district. Pawar Saheb has worked at the grassroots level. Saheb has always formed alliance with secular parties and never has been associated with communal forces. He even issued a clarification about his meeting with Modi.
Praful Patel and Sharad Pawar had stated that no further discussions must be held about the Godhra riots as the Supreme Court had given clean chit to Narendra Modi. Is a there a possibility of NCP having an alliance with the BJP post election?
As I said earlier, Pawar is only talking about facts. Senior leaders has said that Supreme Court had given clean chit to Modi in riot case hence everyone should respect that. Don’t expect that we will join NDA after election. Pawar has always said that we have to do 80 per cent social work and 20 per cent politics. On the other hand, opposition parties are doing 100 percent politics and 0 per cent social work.
Sharad Pawar is an opportunist leader. What is your take about it?
Once GR Khairnar had said that he can provide concrete evidence against Pawar but he failed to do so. Pawar sahib has not been responsible for any scams and there is no leader who can match his calibre.
Do you justify Asha Mirje’s comment?
I’m not justifying whatever Asha Mirje has said but her comment was misunderstood. I fought for amendments to be made in the anti-rape law and I have raised this issue in every session of the assembly. However, I won the battle after twelve sessions and three years. Earlier the rape victim had to depose before the court that she was raped by the accused in the court but I forced to make an amendment that the accused has to prove that he is innocent.
Do you think that groupism is affecting NCP’s performance in elections?
It’s not true as we follow the decisions taken by Sharad Pawar. NCP workers are working for the betterment of the party and it will perform better in this election. Groupism doesn’t exist in our party, but other parties have joined hands to disrupt NCP’s growth. According to me, Pawar Saheb Aangar hai, baki sab bhangar hai.
The NCP has managed to win only nine seats out of 22 seats. How much seats is the party expecting to win this time?
This time we are expecting to win 18 seats out of 22 seats. We will also perform better in other states like Bihar, UP, Goa, Orissa and North East etc.
What is the future of Mahayuti in Maharashtra?
Mahayuti is an alliance made to fool people. Ramdas Athawale’s party had a tie-up with us earlier for pursuing his selfish interests. Athawale is pleased after we made him a MP but he is not interested in working for the welfare of Dalits and is pursuing his own interests. No constituency exists in Maharashtra from where Athawale can be elected as their representative on his own capacity.
Is Raj Thackeray protesting against toll plazas for garnering political mileage or for personal gain?
Raj Thackeray had begun his agitation against toll plazas and kept mum for a long period of time. If you are protesting against an issue how you can discontinue it in the middle. This only goes to show that he was protesting for pursuing his personal interests. When many other parties started agitation against toll plazas in Kolhapur which turned out to be a grand success he too joined the protest bandwagon.
Why are fingers pointed against Congress when dynasty politics is prevalent in every political party?
I think it’s unfair to criticise Rahul Gandhi as he is performing a good job. Whether, it’s Uddhav Thackeray, Supriya Sule, Naveen Patnaik all these leaders have proven themselves that’s why they have become successful. Supriya has done good work for the welfare of women’s organisation. So it’s not right to target dynasty in any political party. If they don’t perform their job then they won’t be re-elected.