Mumbai civic polls: Ashok Chavan says that Sena, BJP clash is a strategy to gain power

Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan, in an interview with the Hindustan Times, has said that the split between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party was a strategic move to occupy the entire political space.

mumbai Updated: Feb 19, 2017 19:37 IST
Surendra P Gangan 
Surendra P Gangan 
Hindustan Times
Ashok Chavan.(HT)

Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan, in an interview with the Hindustan Times, has said that the split between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party was a strategic move to occupy the entire political space. He said that both parties were greedy for power and the fight was on for the golden goose. While alleging that the BJP had pumped in more than Rs100 crore in campaigning in Mumbai, the Congress leader questioned where the fund has come from for the party talking about transparency in the civic body.

Excerpts from an interview:

The party was founded 130 years ago in the city and it has been away from power in the civic body for the last two decades. Do you think it has lost its roots in Mumbai?

I don’t think there is any major issue in the Mumbai Congress. If you are talking about infighting, it happens in all other parties too. The difference that is seen can be attributed to the large number of aspirants for candidature. Having said this, it is also important that the equations within the party be understood by the local leaders and they act accordingly. No one is above the party. If there are difference and problems, they should be sorted out within the four walls and should not come out in public. But now it has died down. All the key leaders, including Gurudas Kamat, Milind Deora, Kripashankar Singh, Arif Naseem Khan, are campaigning in their respective areas. One should also understand that it is not possible for all of them to go together, as campaigning has to be done in a large city.

The BJP has been claiming that the infrastructure projects made progress only after they took over the reign of the state government...

The Paranjape committee report on Mumbai’s infrastructure projects has clearly stated that the all the projects were undertaken during our government’s regime. The Worli-Bandra Sealink, flyovers in Andheri, Malad, and on the Western Express Highway were completed in 8 to 10 years by the governments led by Congress chief ministers. The BJP is only taking credit for the projects. Performing bhoomi pujan is one thing and completing the projects is another. Ask Fadnavis, who conceptulised all the projects being implemented by him? When were the decisions taken? They are talking about Metro lines and coastal roads, but are they really being implemented. There is nothing on ground. The CM has been talking but nothing is materialising.

The BJP has also been talking about transparency and slamming earlier rules…

The party is spending Rs100 crore on advertisement in print, electronic media, social media for the BMC campaign. Everyday new posters and advertisements are appearing on the same sites. I have a simple question, where does this money come from? If they are talking about transparency, is it there in the civic body and its machinery? Were the payments for these advertisements and campaigns made by cheque, debit or credit cards?

Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray have been attacking each other every day. How do you, as a senior political leader, look at it?

It is their political strategy to fight each other and occupy the political space. The fight is for the ‘golden goose’ — the civic body. Sena thinks that it has milked the cow for the last 25 years and that it should not be let go. On the other hand, the BJP wants to snatch it away from them. At the same time, the Sena also wants to be part of the state government and I am sure it is not going to withdraw. Sena is talking about pulling out from the government but not clarifying when will they do so. It is like `mandir wahi banayenge par tarikh nahi batayenge (We will build the temple here, but won’t tell when).

The attack on each other is out of the greed for power. The level of the allegations and counter allegations have reached a record low. I have never witnessed such character assassination at a personal level. But of course, it is the culture of both the parties and nothing is surprising in it. Power has made them crazy and it is the reason why they are washing their dirty linen in public. BJP is now talking about transparency, but my question is, why did it not realise about Sena’s corruption in 22 years of shared power in the BMC.

But both of them have been performing well in the elections held in the recent past…

No, people have slowly started realising. We have been raising various issues such as demonetisation and distress among farmers during our campaign in the rural areas. There is strong resentment against both the ruling parties. Rural economy is badly affected due to demonetisation. Businessmen and traders in Pune, who met me yesterday, are annoyed with them. So is the scenario everywhere in the state. Business has dropped by 70% in the past two months.

In rural areas too, the price of soyabean and cotton has come down. The produce is being thrown on the road for the want of price. There is no sign of farmer suicides going down.


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First Published: Feb 19, 2017 00:22 IST