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Home / Mumbai News / Raj Thackeray’s anti-Modi stand helped Opposition, says Balasaheb Thorat

Raj Thackeray’s anti-Modi stand helped Opposition, says Balasaheb Thorat

Speaking to Hindustan Times, the Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat said he is confident that the party will perform better in the upcoming state Assembly elections.

mumbai Updated: Jul 16, 2019 01:07 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Balasaheb Thorat (left) met party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi in Delhi on Monday.
Balasaheb Thorat (left) met party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi in Delhi on Monday.(HT photo)

Seven-term MLA and former state minister Vijay alias Balasaheb Thorat, 66, has been appointed as new chief of the Maharashtra Congress. Even after the party suffered rout in the Lok Sabha elections, Thorat is confident that the Opposition front, comprising the Congress, NCP and smaller parties, will form the government in the state. He said the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena-led Raj Thackeray helped the Opposition with his anti-Modi stand in the Lok Sabha elections and the decision on alliance with Thackeray will be taken by leadership. Excerpts from an interview:

How do you plan to take on the Fadnavis government, which is eyeing a second term in the state?

There is no dearth of issues against the government and we are going to raise them effectively and aggressively. The rural economy has collapsed. Agricultural sector, which is a major contributor to state GDP, is in bad shape. The state has failed in addressing agricultural distress. The relief to drought-hit farmers was given only in April, when farmers were facing the heat from Diwali last year. They announced a loan waiver of ₹35,000 crore and it was supposed be a blanket waiver….. This government is good only in advertisements and making tall claims. We have decided to expose its fraudulent and deceiving face in next three months. Our performance in the Lok Sabha elections was dismal, but we will increase our seats manifold in the Assembly elections. It has been proved time and again that people vote differently in the LS and Assembly polls.

How do you plan to do it amid infighting in both state and Mumbai units of the party?

I would not deny that there is infighting and differences within party units. It is because we have ‘excessive democracy’ within the party. Every party has this. I am sure we will fight unitedly during the elections to ensure that differences don’t affect the party’s prospects in the elections.

Will the Congress join hands with Thackeray in the Assembly elections?

It is very difficult to say anything about the alliance at this juncture. The decision has to be taken by the leadership and after due deliberation within the party on state level. It is true that Raj Thackeray has changed his stand over issues related to North Indians of late...

Raj Thackeray met UPA chief Sonia Gandhi last week in Delhi... It is believed that the meeting was facilitated by state leaders of Congress...

I do not know who facilitated the meeting or who was behind it. But one thing is clear that his stand during Lok Sabha elections was appreciated in all quarters. Even voters were convinced by his presentation and the issues raised during the Lok Sabha campaign. It is another thing that response to his meetings did not translate into votes, as there are different reasons to it. Talking about them may evoke a controversy, but there is no doubt that his stand was appreciated. There is no doubt that his campaign helped us in the Lok Sabha elections.

Has the party leadership attempted social engineering by appointing five working presidents to assist you?

The Congress is made up of workers and leaders representing various communities and regions. It is not a deliberate attempt, but in the process of picking efficient workers to lead the party, we end up giving representation to all communities and regions.

Don’t you think appointment of five working presidents will lead to leadership chaos?

Not at all. We will amicably distribute our work making it convenient. The presence and experience of the five working presidents will help me lead the party effectively.

NCP has been demanding equal seats, much higher than contested earlier. There is a challenge of bringing smaller allies including Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi on board in alliance…

There are challenges and issues. The NCP may ask for more seats, but we will solve these problems by deliberation. I am sure that Ambedkar will realise that it is the fight for democracy and principles. I am confident he will join hands with us.