We will protest against actors, push for electricity bill waiver: Maharashtra Congress chief
In an interview with Hindustan Times, newly appointed Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole says his party was determined to give waiver from inflated power bills, free electricity to the small consumers and have state’s own farm law to negate central laws. Patole said Congress will protest against Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar for their ‘dubious stand’ on the fuel price hike. He also said that the party will not hesitate to speak against the government on issues related to the general public. Excerpts from the interview-
Will Congress become aggressive under your leadership?
We have been aggressively reacting to the issues that are close to the heart of the people. Our responsibility has increased more as the Narendra Modi government in the Centre has adopted anti-people policies. It has started selling off public sector companies, fuel prices are all-time high when the crude prices are still low. They have imposed a road cess of ₹18 and a farmer development cess of ₹4, but the money collected is not being utilised for the purpose it’s being collected for.
You said you will make Congress the number one party in Maharashtra. How are going to take the party to the top from the current number four position in the state?
I have a very pragmatic plan for it. There are some problems in organisational structure in the state, but I have started resolving them. I have started taking review across the state, to strengthen our base. We may not be able to achieve the top position immediately in the upcoming local body elections, but by the 2024 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, the results will be seen. I got an overwhelming response from the people in Mumbai, Nagpur and Bhandara after I was appointed the Congress chief. Congress is there in the roots of Maharashtra and it would not be difficult to become the number one party in the state.
Will Congress contest the local body elections, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC), with its allies in the state?
We will fight the BMC election on our own, it has been decided. We have also made an announcement. For other local bodies, the decision will be taken based on the demand and requirement at the local level by speaking to our leaders in the respective areas.
The alliance for the local body elections may lead to friction within the ruling alliance.
I do not see any reason for it. Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had fought separately even when they were in an alliance in the state. Why there should be any problem within the ruling alliance over it? This government is stable and will complete its five-year term.
Congress has been complaining about the secondary treatment by two other parties in the Maharasthra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. What do you have to say over it?
The government could be formed just because Congress was part of it. I will take a review of all the departments held by the Congress and if felt need we will talk to the chief minister and deputy chief minister to ensure we get equal treatment. We are in power for the balanced development of the state and the interest of the people. We would not tolerate secondary treatment for us. We will not hesitate to talk against the government if need be, in the interest of the people.
Congress has spoken about waiver in the inflated bill, free power to small consumers and state’s own farm law to negate central laws…It does not seem to be happening.
We are determined to give a waiver to the power consumers from the inflated bills during the lockdown. Our minister (energy minister and Congress leader Nitin Raut) has also announced free power to the consumers with the usage of 100 units. We will ensure that these announcements are fulfilled. Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar has recently spoken about the revenue shortfall of about ₹1.12 lakh crore. We will speak to him over it but we are firm on the announcement made by Congress ministers.
We will push for the state’s own farm law in the ensuing budget session. Our parliamentary board passed a resolution in that respect.
There has been unprecedented friction witnessed between governor BS Koshyari and MVA government in the state…
Governor’s stand concerning state government matters is doubtful. People have started raising questions over it. He is expected to act impartially as he the head of the state and should treat all equally. He asked the government to hold an election for the post of speaker but does not clear the names recommended for the nomination to the Legislative Council. The friction between the Governor and the government is unprecedented and something which never witnessed in Maharashtra.
You were the first BJP member of Parliament (MP) to speak against Prime Minister Narendra Modi before quitting the party in 2017. Was it a mistake to join BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha election in 2014?
The reservations and objections raised by me in 2017 are being raised now by the people of the country. I had joined BJP expecting that I will get a better opportunity to serve the people. But was disillusioned within a couple of years. I am a born Congressi but was compelled to join BJP because of the local politics in Bhandara-Gondiya.
You criticised Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar for their silence and announced to ban their films. The Opposition says it was just to grab headlines.
We are serious about it. I have directed party workers to protest against the actors for not speaking in the interest of the common people. They are the icons of the country and they have the democratic right, it’s their duty to speak up against wrong policies. They spoke in 2012 when there was the Manmohan Singh government in power. Why are they silent now? If they have pressure upon them to not speak against the government, they should come up openly and the people of the country will stand in their support.
Some actors have been proclaimed as Deshbhakt by honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but their nationality is in doubts.