Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's plan to visit drought-hit areas of western Maharashtra has cheered the Congress cadre, although its ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is not so happy.
On Saturday, Gandhi will visit drought-hit Man and Khatav talukas, in chief minister Prithviraj Chavan's home district Satara. The region also falls under Madha parliamentary constituency, held by NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
The visit comes against the backdrop of a similar visit to the region by Pawar, which was followed by chief minister's meetings with officials in the region. Many in the Congress felt that Pawar's visit was an attempt to hijack the drought issue. The NCP chief took a dig at Chavan and subsequently targeted the Governor for not doing enough to ease the situation.
Political observers see Gandhi's visit as an attempt to ensure that credit for bringing relief to the region does not go to the NCP.
However, the Congress rejected all such suggestions. "Rahul Gandhi's visit has nothing to do with politics. He is coming to see the situation so that help can be extended," said senior Congress leader and forest minister Patangrao Kadam.
"As far as NCP is concerned, our leaders were the first to visit drought-hit areas which stirred up the government machinery," said NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade.
Meanwhile, Raj Thackeray demanded to know why Gandhi was visiting only western Maharashtra. "When other areas like Marathwada, Vidarbha and Konkan are also facing a scarcity, why is Gandhi visiting only Satara and Sangli, regions which has been dominated for years by Congress and NCP," he asked.
BJP leader Vinod Tawade, who is also currently on a visit to Sangli's drought-hit regions, termed Gandhi's tour as futile attempt to improve Congress' chances in the elections.