Expect Surprising Results In State Polls: Balasaheb Thorat
The Congress is struggling for existence during this State Assembly polls. The party is striving hard to double its tally. After the defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) made organisational changes in its State unit in July. Senior State leader Balasaheb Thorat became the new State party chief. Despite busy schedule, Thorat spoke exclusively with Siddharth Gadkari and expressed his party’s views on various issues.
Is Maharashtra Navnirman Sena a part of the Grand Alliance? If not, then why is the Congress supporting MNS candidates? In Pune, you have extended support to MNS candidate Kishor Shinde in the Kothrud constituency.
MNS is not in the Grand Alliance. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has supported MNS candidates in some constituencies. But we are not supporting MNS, where we have fielded our own candidates. However, where there is a possibility of an MNS candidate defeating the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance candidate and reducing their numbers, we will help NCP-supported MNS candidates. Congress has no direct alliance with MNS.
How is your manifesto different from that of other parties?
We assured in our manifesto we would fulfil all promises made in it if we come to power. It is a comprehensive manifesto, which includes farmers, unemployed youths, women, environment issues, etc. It is a practical manifesto and not a virtual one.
Why did Congress get only three seats instead of four during the
seat-sharing in Pune?
The candidate, who got the second highest votes in the 2014 State polls, has got the ticket. Seat-sharing is a complex procedure. However, this is an important criterion. At the State level, there were some seats, where we failed to field strong candidates and our candidates got fewer votes. So, we gave them to NCP. The same happened with NCP. But there was no other solution. It happens. I don’t think there is much rebellion in our party. I discussed seat-sharing in detail with NCP State President Jayant Patil. It worked out well.
How many years would the party rely on the Congress ideology? Will it ever bounce back?
In 1999, Congress was split and the NCP was formed. At that time, all senior and big leaders joined NCP. Only a few leaders remained in Congress. We didn’t have the majority. Still, Vilasrao Deshmukh became the chief minister. People can do anything. It is not optimism. Congress will certainly bounce back. You will see a different picture in Vidarbha, Mumbai, Marathwada, Sangli and Kolhapur. There will be surprising results. We faced a lot of difficulties and challenges while finalising the candidates’ list. It took 15 hours to finalise the list of 40 candidates.
Why is the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance raising the same issues highlighted in Lok Sabha polls. People have rejected Congress and voted for Bharatiya Janata Party. Do you have a new strategy for the polls?
In Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, there are Congress chief ministers. At the State level, there is a different scenario. People think differently. They don’t give preference to national issues. In Lok Sabha polls, BJP combined psychology with technology. Now, burning issues will be debated, which people face on a daily basis.
Why has Congress dropped the EVM tampering issue?
We discussed the issue at the national and state levels. We agree that it is an important issue but if we highlight it, other vital issues will get less importance in the polls. Hence, it is not our poll plank.
Will the Enforcement Director (ED)’s notice to NCP Chief Sharad Pawar make any difference in the polls?
Sharad Pawar has been in politics for the past 50 years. He is a legendary leader in Indian politics. He has cordial relations with leaders from all parties. The Enforcement Directors has made a blunder. It has boomeranged. I don’t know whether it will help in the elections. But everyone should condemn the notice.
Do you think BJP helped Congress party to level dynasty in the State?
The Congress leaders, who left the party, run various institutions. They cannot survive without power. People’s perception of these leaders is not good. They don’t have ethics. Now, new people have got a chance.