Former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan spoke on a range of electoral issues during his visit to Hindustan Times office in Pune, , on Monday, April 1, 2019.(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)
Former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan spoke on a range of electoral issues during his visit to Hindustan Times office in Pune, , on Monday, April 1, 2019.(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Unemployment, farmer distress Congress poll planks, says Prithviraj Chavan

Former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan, in an interview with HT, also said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was bound to witness a drop in the number of seats as compared to 2014 and this could even result in a change in party leadership.
By Team HT | Hindustan Times, Pune
UPDATED ON APR 02, 2019 09:11 AM IST

Prithviraj Chavan, former chief minister and senior Congressman, said on Monday that unemployment among the youth and farm distress will be the primary thrust of the Congress campaign for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Chavan was interacting with journalists during a visit to Hindustan Times’ Pune office on Monday when he spoke on a range of electoral issues. He was emphatic that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was bound to witness a drop in the number of seats as compared to 2014 and this could even result in a change in party leadership. After the election results, senior BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari or Rajnath Singh could emerge as “compromise candidates” he said as the party’s tally was likely to go down in the Hindi heartland.

“There are 273 seats in the Hindi heartland of which the BJP alone got 223 last time. This time, BJP’s tally in that region will be less by 100 seats. Under this scenario, BJP will need more allies who will only accept either Gadkari or Singh as prime minister,” said Chavan.

He said the Modi government’ s “wrong policies” has led to widespread unemployment and farm distress in various parts of the country. “In the rural areas, there has been agriculture crisis due to Narendra Modi’s policies.”

“The results in the recent assembly elections demonstrated that. In urban areas, no jobs and lack of growth are the big issues,” said Chavan, adding that demonetisation and goods and services tax (GST) will also be one of the issues as it has affected traders.

The senior party leader acknowledged that the momentum that had uplifted the Congress after the victories in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh states was lost after the Pulwama attack and the air strikes. However, it was now back due to minimum guarantee scheme, Chavan said, while calling the scheme a “game changer” in many ways.

Chavan, who is part of the Congress team leading the party’s campaign in Maharashtra, said, “The momentum that we had gained after the outcome in the elections in three states was lost after the Pulwama attack. We could not directly or indirectly challenge the government, but now we have asked them to give us proof. Their logic was to brand people anti-national if anyone questioned them. With minimum guarantee scheme, the momentum has been regained.”

Chavan blamed Prakash Ambedkar, Dalit leader and founder of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, for the failure of a grand alliance that was attempted in Maharashtra. Accusing Ambedkar of being “a part of BJP’s B team,” he said, “Ambedkar was sold out from day one. We held dialogue as we did not want to send a message that Congress is not doing enough for alliance.”

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