A day before the INDIA alliance’s two-day conclave in Mumbai begins, Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole talks to The Indian Express about the meeting of 28 Opposition parties, the state of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), and “attempts to divide INDIA”.
You have planned a felicitation of Rahul Gandhi at the party headquarters …
We will be felicitating a warrior who is visiting the land of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He is fighting a battle against a dictator who is trying to change the country’s Constitution and alter the democratic system. Rahul ji’s fight cost him his Lok Sabha membership and he was thrown out of his house. After the court gave him justice, he kept on demanding justice for our sisters in Manipur. When such a warrior comes to Mumbai and visits the state Congress headquarters, it is appropriate that the state Congress felicitates him.
Will the Maharashtra Congress benefit from Rahul’s visit as well as the INDIA front’s meeting?
We will grab this opportunity to talk about Maharashtra’s plight. The state is facing drought. More than half the state is facing drinking water shortage. At this time, governments in states and the Centre are busy playing politics. Reducing the gas cylinder price by Rs 200 after increasing it by Rs 700 is nothing but fakery. Fuel prices are still roaring. We will be presenting these issues on behalf of the people of Maharashtra.
Is there an attempt to divide INDIA?
Yes, there are attempts for sure. After our meeting in Bengaluru, the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) meeting of 38 parties was called. We have Chief Ministers of maximum states and the number is going to increase further. It is obvious that the NDA is feeling threatened by the growing strength of INDIA and efforts to break our alliance are in progress.
Will the MVA stay united amid the possibility of disputes over seat sharing?
There is no dispute in the MVA. Even Uddhav ji (Shiv Sena UBT leader Uddhav Thackeray) has said seats will be distributed based on merit. Our primary aim is to defeat the Narendra Modi government and the alliance is focusing on it.
Do you think parties such as the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) are working on the directions of the BJP?
Even if they are, it won’t have any impact on Maharashtra. The BRS is struggling in its home state and the people of Maharashtra will not allow outsiders to spoil the game here.
Are leaders such as Raju Shetti going to join INDIA?
They have collective leadership in the form of Peasants and Workers Party leader Jayant Patil, who has joined us. He will be with INDIA on behalf of all.
Has Prakash Ambedkar (of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi) decided to join you?
As of now, we have neither received any proposal from him nor we have discussed anything about him.