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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

Modi raises Maharashtra poll pitch as campaigns enter last leg

Addressing three rallies, including one at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an attack on the Opposition — the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance. Modi targeted NCP leaders over allegations of underworld connections.

assembly-elections Updated: Oct 17, 2019 06:56 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election rally ahead of Maharashtra Election at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai,  on Wednesday, October 16, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election rally ahead of Maharashtra Election at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai, on Wednesday, October 16, 2019.(Bachchan Kumar / HT Photo )
         

With just five days to go till the October 21 elections, political parties across Maharashtra raised their campaign pitches on Wednesday.

Addressing three rallies, including one at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an attack on the Opposition — the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance. Modi targeted NCP leaders over allegations of underworld connections. He also slammed Opposition leaders for criticising him and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for raising the issue of Article 370 in the elections, saying the latter should be ashamed to question the same.

Modi also expressed confidence in chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, stating that their combination is the formula for success and development. “In Delhi, you got Narendra back. Do the same in Maharashtra. Narendra in Delhi and Devendra in Mumbai. This is a superhit formula,”he said.

Meanwhile, NCP chief Sharad Pawar came down heavily on the Modi government at the Centre over the plight of farmers.

At the Kharghar rally, Modi said, “New revelations show why those accused of bomb blasts escaped from the country,” he said, without naming anyone. “You remember the bomb blasts in Maharashtra, targeting trains and other establishments. The masterminds also escaped to an enemy country. As we all want to know how they escaped, new revelations are clearing the picture?,” Modi said.

Modi’s remarks were in reference to news reports about the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which summoned senior NCP leader Praful Patel in connection with a money-laundering investigation related to assets of the late Iqbal Mirchi, a close aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

He said his government has in the past five years done a lot to eliminate the builder-underworld nexus. “There will be no forgiveness for the mafia. We will eliminate it.”

Patel did not react on Wednesday, but NCP spokesperson Sanjay Tatkare said, “It is very unfortunate that the Prime Minister is using these issues for political gains. Praful Patelji has already clarified his side in detail in the press conference.”

Patel had on Tuesday countered the ED charges at a press conference, where he insisted that there was no financial transaction or partnership between Mirchi’s wife Hajra Memon and his family. He said it was a redevelopment deal involving property partly owned by his family, and partly by others (including Hajra). The property was under litigation and the action was taken as per court orders.

Modi also criticised Opposition leaders, who have accused him and the BJP of raising the issue of Article 370 in the Maharashtra elections, to divert attention from problems concerning the state. “They [opposition leaders] don’t want a united India. They want to divide India for their divisive politics,” he remarked.

He also said Konkan region would become a development hub with the new international airport and infrastructure projects coming up.

“Panvel, Kalyan, Airoli, Belapur, Pen, Dombivli and Thane are all Maharashtra’s economic power centres,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Uddhav Thackeray-Narayan Rane rivalry continued to be in focus even after Rane merged his outfit, Maharashtra Swabhimaan Paksh, with the BJP on Tuesday. Thackeray addressed a rally in Rane’s hometown against his son and BJP candidate Nitesh Rane. He called Rane a “backstabber” and urged voters to defeat Nitesh. The Sena has officially fielded a candidate, Satish Sawant, in Kankavli. Fadnavis had on Tuesday addressed a campaign rally for Nitesh Rane.

Taking a dig at the BJP-led state government’s governance, NCP president Sharad Pawar, while addressing at Vashi Naka at Chembur, said, “Nearly 16,000 farmer suicides have been reported across the state. Farmers are dying as they cannot repay the loan amount and the present government is doing nothing for them.”

Pawar urged for change in Maharashtra.

“Some rich people of our country took loans of ₹70,000-80,000 crore and could not repay the amount back to the bank. Their amount was waived off by this government, but there is no will to help the poor and instead, they are letting banks forcefully take action on them. Who is this government supporting and who are they using their powers for?”.

Pawar also said the government failed in solving problem of Chembur and Anushakti Nagar constituency area, which faces a high level of pollution owing to the proximity of oil refineries.

Meanwhile, in Osmanabad, Sena MP Omraje Nimbalkar was stabbed by a youth, while the former was campaigning for a party candidate. Nimbalkar received minor injuries. Police said they were looking for the youth, who fled the scene after assaulting Nimbalkar.