‘Gen­eral feel­ing is Fad­navis govt has ig­nored core is­sues’

For state polls, BJP to bank on Modi-Shah com­bine again

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - Pra­fulla.Marpak­war @times­group.com TIMES NEWS NET­WORK

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.


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