Maharashtra Opposition to unite again for state polls
Cong, NCP, smaller allies meet; agree VBA hurt them in LS polls, divided on MNS
After suffering a rout in the Lok Sabha polls in the state, opposition parties have yet again vowed to fight unitedly in the Assembly elections scheduled to be held in October this year. The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance, which won only six seats in Maharashtra, held its first joint meeting on Tuesday after the poll results. The meeting was held to review reasons behind their defeat and brainstorm for the upcoming Assembly polls in October.
In a deja vu scenario, the Opposition parties continue to be hopeful about the Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) joining their alliance while remaining divided over the induction of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) for the state election. Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, too, the allies held similar opinions; then, too, they had decided to put a united front but seat-sharing talks had gone on till March.
The parties have now decided to meet every week and begin seat-sharing talks immediately so that they get enough time to prepare for polls in every constituency. The opposition leaders also decided that they would again try to convince Ambedkar to support them.
“Though we have officially decided to make an attempt, we are not hopeful about the alliance as Ambedkar is predetermined about damaging Congress-NCP. We were open about his demands but he kept changing them every time during our 13 meetings with them,” said an NCP leader, who did not want to be named. Congress state unit chief Ashok Chavan said, “I am not sure about what Ambedkar wishes, but we are open for talks with the front.’’
While NCP and other smaller allies including Swabhimani Paksh are in favour of joining hands with MNS, Congress leaders have expressed reservations. The leaders felt MNS had made no impact in the Lok Sabha polls despite Thackeray’s rallies drawing big crowds and an alliance could alienate Congress’ North Indian votes.
Leaders from all the parties expressed surprise over the Lok Sabha election results in the meeting. “None of the opposition parties will now be stubborn over seat-sharing and (will) come together under one umbrella,” said a Congress leader who attended the meeting.
“There is distress among people over various issues including drought, farmer suicides,reservation, etc. Lok Sabha results are always different from that of Assembly polls. We had registered victory in three Assembly polls just six months before the Lok Sabha elections,” said Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar.
Meanwhile, BJP’s strength in the Legislative Council is expected to increase by one as no other party filed nomination for the bypoll to be held on June 7.