Until six months ago, her party was unwilling to recognize him as a potential game spoiler.
But in her first rally in Mumbai, three days before Maharashtra goes to polls, Congress president Sonia Gandhi made it a point to snub Raj Thackeray and his party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
Referring to Thackeray’s campaign against north Indians in the city — a move, which won him lakhs of votes in the Lok Sabha polls — Gandhi said she was “deeply pained by such extremist views”.
“The people of Mumbai are large hearted and hence people from all over India come here,” said Gandhi at the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) joint rally held at the Bandra Kurla Complex grounds in suburban Mumbai on Saturday. “People all over India consider Mumbai their home.”
Gandhi while appealing for votes for the Congress-NCP combine said varied communities of people are like a bouquet of flowers with each one being precious. “All people are ready to help one another and this inherited quality is our strength which we should preserve,” she said.
Senior NCP leader Praful Patel who also spoke at the rally ruled out any possibilities of joining hands with the MNS. “For us, the Shiv Sena and MNS are two sides of the same coin and asking for their support is out of question,” said Patel. Senior NCP leader and Baramati candidate, Ajit Pawar, had recently that his party was “not allergic to the MNS”.
Gandhi, meanwhile, reiterated the Congress-NCP combine’s commitment towards the progress of the state and said that they would take care to ensure that poor and marginal sections do not suffer in the process.
“There may be some problems when progress takes place but we still care for the poor and we will see to it that they are rehabilitated if they are displaced,” said Gandhi.