‘Tis the (yatra) season: All 4 Maha parties on same path to woo voters
With the code of conduct for the Assembly polls, just a few weeks away, all four political parties in Maharashtra are now on the road undertaking various yatras, as a means to reach out to the electorate.
The Maharashtra Congress kicked off its ‘Pol Khol Yatra’ or ‘Maha Pardafash Yatra’ from Amravati in Vidarbha on Monday. The yatra will cover various other parts of the state, including north Maharashtra, Marathwada and Konkan in the coming days. Touring on the route of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ Mahajanadesh Yatra, the main opposition party said they will “expose the tall claims” made by Fadnavis.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis embarked on the second phase of his Mahajandesh Yatra from August 22. Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray will begin the third phase of his Jan Ashirwad Yatra from Tuesday and hold meetings in western Vidarbha. The Nationalist Congress Party began its second phase of Shiv Swarajya Yatra from August 19. It will be held in districts of Marathwada and Vidarbha over the next few days.
Unlike earlier, when the Opposition used to undertake yatras to drum up support against the ruling parties, this time, the saffron parties took the lead to reach out to the masses.
Soon after Fadnavis announced his month-long Mahajanadesh Yatra, which started on August 1, Aaditya, Shiv Sena leader and son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray, announced his Jan Ashirwad Yatra last month. He covered districts of north Maharashtra and Marathwada during his two phases of 4-5 days each in July and beginning of August. “Aaditya has emerged as the urban face, with a following among middle and upper middle class. To establish his pan-Maharashtra presence, especially among rural voters and farmers, the yatra was planned to present him as the next leader of the party,” said a Shiv Sena leader on the condition of anonymity.
It has been chalked out in a way that it does not clash with the Mahajanadesh Yatra and focusses only on the constituencies that are represented by the party in the seat-sharing arrangements with the BJP.
The CM’s yatra is a bid to brand him as the topmost state leader in the BJP. Fadnavis had planned to travel 4232km in 30 districts. He, however, had to cut short his first phase due to the deluge in parts of Maharashtra. The second phase of 11 days beginning from Dhule-Nandurbar in north Maharashtra started last Thursday and will conclude in drought-hit Marathwada, covering almost all districts in the two regions.
“I don’t think Fadnavis has any problem in getting the second term in the office in the backdrop of exodus of the leaders from the Opposition. The BJP has planned it well in a way to reach out to the people, who have benefited from the state schemes. This is an attempt to build an image of the CM and his government,” said political analyst Hemand Desai.
While on their yatra, NCP leaders Ajit Pawar, Dhananjay Munde have been targeting the ruling BJP for its ‘failure’ in containing farmer suicides and rising unemployment, among others. “If the CM feels that his government has fared well, why does he need to go touring the state,” asked Ajit Pawar.
On Monday, the Congress began the yatra in the presence of top state leaders; public meetings were also held during the day at Aarvi, Pulgaon, Wardha. The leaders will address at least 16 public meetings at talukas in various districts of Vidarbha and meet people in groups over next four days. The second phase of the yatra will begin on September 3 in Yavatmal and Washim before proceeding to North Maharashtra.
“Fadnavis began Mahajanadesh Yatra, when Marathwada was reeling under drought and western Maharashtra was battling floods. During his first phase of yatra, the CM gloated about his performance over the past five years and dared us to debate on it. When I took up the challenge and asked him to inform me about the date and time for the debate, he backtracked. We will now go to people through this Pol Khol Yatra and expose his tall claims,” said Nana Patole, former MP and chief of campaign committee of the state Congress. He is heading the yatra along with state chief Balasaheb Thorat. The Congress was scheduled to begin on August 20 on the occasion of Rajiv Gandhi Jayanti, but was postponed to August 25 and then to August 26.