Can Cong-NCP Compete With BJP-Sena in Maha? Ashok Chavan Says Yes

Is Congress-NCP coalition ready to compete with BJP-Shiv Sena in Maharashtra? Ashok Chavan speaks to Quint Hindi.

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Ahead of Lok Sabha polls, all eyes are on Maharashtra politics because after Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra is the second-largest state with respect to Lok Sabha seats.

Is the Congress-NCP coalition ready to compete with the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance? Maharashtra Congress’ President Ashok Chavan speaks with Quint Hindi.

Congress-NCP alliance is clearly underway but are the talks for a Grand Alliance in the state headed in the right direction?

We are in talks with several parties who share the same ideology. There is good progress. There is always a demand and it always should be. Keeping the limitations of seats in mind the basic criteria is to calculate which party can bag victory from which seat. Congress should contest from the seat where they can win. NCP should contest from the seat where they can win. Prakash Ambedkar should contest from the seat where he can win.

The allocation of seats should happen keeping in mind which party can win from which seat. This way, the Congress-NCP alliance would have the advantage and the BJP would bear the loss.

Would Prakash Ambedkar agree to this? From his end, claims are being made in the media that there is a demand for 12 seats.

Congress-NCP has offered him four seats. We have to accommodate other parties as well. Congress-NCP are major parties. We ourselves want that Prakash Ambedkar contest on behalf of Congress-NCP. But he is the only one who can decide. We are awaiting his response. We have made it clear that an alliance cannot take place with AIMIM. Owaisi himself has said that “if because of me there is any trouble then I am not inclined to contest for elections. I will step aside.” This is what he has said.

Questions are being raised regarding Raj Thackeray’s party. They are in constant touch with the NCP. Ajit Pawar has said that they have spoken to the Congress about the same. If Chandrababu Naidu can be part of the Grand Alliance then why not Raj Thackeray? Such questions are being raised.

The suggestion to accommodate Raj Thackeray’s party has come from the NCP. Congress has not yet responded to that. There is a need for internal conversation in the Congress especially on topics such as MNS, Mumbai and its ideology. A decision would be taken on the basis of policy decision. It would be taken in Delhi. Currently, no decision has been taken.

Does Congress have a positive opinion about Raj Thackeray?

Our leaders have different opinions on Raj Thackeray. Till the time there’s not any significant change in their opinions or any discussion on the same no proposal can be made.

On behalf of Nationalist Congress Party, Sharad Pawar is talking about contesting for elections. NCP is ready to send its big leaders to fight for elections. What is your analysis of this?

Elections are a war. All the strong commanders should come out to fight in the war. Those who have the possibility to be elected should certainly contest this election. Congress would also do the same.

Sharad Pawar is willing to bring the Grand Opposition alliance closer. Can India get its PM from Maharastra?

Which party gets how many seats? What decision would be taken by all the parties? This is about the alliance. There are other parties involved. It is an issue on a national level. Till all the parties come together to take a decision no decision can be taken. All parties have also said that discussions over the post of PM would take place post-elections.

Unity is visible in Maharashtra Congress. But Mumbai Congress’ rhetoric is suggesting that on one side, Priya Dutt is saying that she would  not contest elections, on the other hand, Sanjay Nirupam is not willing to contest from his seat he is demanding another. Milind Deora is saying that due to lack of unity he is no mood to contest elections.

Milind Deora would certainly contest elections. Priya Dutt, due to some personal reasons, would not contest elections. I do not see this as a big issue. There is a bit of an issue concerning the Mumbai president. The elections are approaching so if every leader focuses on his seat there will be no issue.

Does Prakash Ambedkar want the Solapur seat?

Mostly everyone is of the opinion that  Sushil Kumar Shinde should contest from the Solapur seat.

Would a party like Shiv Sena, which believes in ‘first mandir then government’ agree with this?

First Shiv Sena, then everything else. This is what the situation is right now. Shiv Sena is aware that without the BJP it does not have an identity. BJP is aware that without the help of Shiv Sena, it cannot form government.

They can’t leave each other. The drama outside is that Shiv Sena is dominating the situation and trying to grab more seats and take the advantage. I had earlier said that this alliance would definitely happen. These talks that are underway are just for show. These are election tactics. We are fully prepared to face them. Our alliance is completely prepared.

Despite being with the BJP, Shiv Sena has always opposed the government. Would this prove to be a disadvantage?

Where are they opposing the government? When there were talks underway for Samruddhi Mahamarg it was informed externally that they are opposing it but internally they were in its support.

The proposal was made by the Shiv Sena minister himself. When there were talks about giving it the name of Balasaheb Thackeray the whole issue came to an end. Something else happens outside and they do something else behind closed doors. This is the drama that is underway.  Internally both stand united.

They want the chief minister to come from the Shiv Sena. Is this a strong deal?

First let them get elected. First let people cast their votes that show which party has been elected. Before people have cast their votes who has given them the right to chose the CM?

How many seats are you expecting in Maharashtra?

Congress-NCP and other parties together will get more seats that Shiv Sena-BJP. Maharashtra would have a significant contribution to make in the formation of government in the country.

There is news doing the rounds that Congress President Rahul Gandhi will contest from Maharastra.

These rumours are being spread by the media. There is no official comment being made from our side. Rahul Gandhi is the country’s leader. He would face no issues contesting and winning from any seat. Until now, we have not received any official statement.

The story was originally published on Quint Hindi

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