Union Minister for Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises Vilasrao Deshmukh on Monday said the Maharashtra Congress should follow the "Uttar Pradesh pattern" and contest the forthcoming state assembly elections on its own.
Deshmukh said his opinion was based on the feelings and sentiments of hundreds of thousands of Congress workers across the state.
In his first interaction Monday evening with the Mumbai media after taking over as cabinet minister at the centre, Deshmukh urged the state and central Congress leaderships to come out with its decision on the polls within a month.
Asked whether he had discussed the issue with Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Deshmukh said: "Rahul Gandhi is well aware of the state's political situation. I am making my best efforts to convince him in this matter. I have done my job of putting the workers' sentiments before the party leadership."
Deshmukh had floated the proposal even before the recent Lok Sabha elections but found few takers.
However, after the results catapulted the Congress to a strong position in the state, the scenario has changed. The last elections were fought together by the Congress and Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), in which the latter suffered reverses.
Deshmukh pointed out that though the Congress-NCP fought Lok Sabha and assembly elections jointly, they did not do so in the case of polls to the municipal corporations, councils and local bodies.
"There have been police complaints, court cases and a lot of bitterness between the two parties. But consider the UP-pattern or model, and see how the Congress has been revived in that state," said Deshmukh, himself a two-time chief minister of Maharashtra.
In response to a query, Deshmukh said that since the assembly elections are due after four months (October), he would like to strengthen the party in the state.