‘General feeling is Fadnavis govt has ignored core issues’
For state polls, BJP to bank on Modi-Shah combine again
At 78, Sharad Pawar still sets a brisk pace. Since elections were declared, he has covered more than 100 assembly constituencies—he addresses at least half a dozen rallies every day, mostly in the rural parts of the state. Pawar says the “dismal performance” of the government will ensure that the Congress-NCP front returns to power. A recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, Pawar spoke to TOI on the agrarian crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image and challenges before the opposition.
What has changed since the 2019 Lok Sabha polls?
The opposition was wiped out (in the LS polls), NCP won only four seats. But this has happened before. After Congress was defeated in 1977, Indira Gandhi made a grand comeback in 1980… 2019 polls were preceded by the Pulwama attack. Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully raised the issue of national security and aggressively took on Pakistan. There were two options before the people: Rahul Gandhi or Modi. People chose Modi as he had succeeded in convincing the electorate that national security is of paramount importance.
And what will be the outcome now?
In 2014, Congress and NCP contested elections separately. Now they have joined hands to take on the saffron combine. Discontent is brewing in all sections. People, especially the younger generation, are looking for change. Lok Sabha and assembly polls are fought on different grounds and the general perception is the Fadnavis government has ignored core issues. No steps have been taken to generate employment. Many industrial units are shut or facing closure, which will result in job loss. More than 16,000 farmers have ended their lives, but government appears to be a silent spectator. A loan waiver scheme was announced, but against a target of 90 lakh farmers, less than 20 lakh have benefited. It tal, Nagpur is one of the most cultured cities in the state and also a second capital. It has achieved the dubious distinction of being described as a crime capital.
You have been booked by the Enforcement Directorate in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam
I was shocked when I found my name in the statement issued by the Enforcement Directorate. Mind you, there are 70 people accused in all, from all parties, but only three or four names were mentioned. I was never associated with the bank in any manner, Ajit Pawar was there, but he never attended the meetings of the loan committee. This is clear abuse of power. Agencies like ED, income tax, CBI and anti-corruption bureau are being used to harass the opposition. Look at the way former union minister P Chidambaram has been arrested. It is an attempt to malign the image of honest politicians. Now, the credibility of central agencies is at stake. I have seen the Emergency, this is even worse.
Most of your trusted associates including Udayan Raje Bhosale, Vijaysinh Mohite Patil, Madhukar Pichad, have ditched you…
Many of them met me before quitting the NCP. They left for two reasons: firstly out of fear, since most of them are associated with one or other society. They fear that they will face an investigation by ED, CBI, IT or ACB. The second group feels that there is no possibility of being re-elected and that the present BJP-led government is all set to continue for the second term. I am confident that most defectors will be rejected by the electorate.
Minister Girish Mahajan said Congress-NCP together will not get more than 40 seats
Revenue minister Chandrakant Dada Patil, who is also state BJP president, and Mahajan, are the most resourceful ministers in the state. Let us see what happens after the elections. New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah will once again be the lead campaigners for the party in the upcoming assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra with the two leaders likely to hit the poll turf after the Dussehra celebrations.
Party sources said Modi may address around 10 rallies in Maharashtra and four-five in Haryana while Shah is likely to address twice the number of public meetings in the two states . Although party sources said the number of rallies may change depending on the need of the campaign, they confirmed that the two leaders will campaign rigorously with national issues like nullification of Article 370, Modi government's anticorruption drive and the saffron push for nationwide NRC being the top planks.
Sources said the feedback received on government’s decision to end Jammu & Kashmir’s special status was encouraging and people also looked “favourably” at its push for action against big names, many of them opposition leaders, allegedly involved in corruption.
By giving saffron campaign an overarching theme powered by national issues, BJP hopes to come back to power with a bigger mandate.