Ram temple as poll plank not working in favour of BJP, says Congress leader Chavan

Ram temple as poll plank not working in favour of BJP, says Congress leader Chavan

PTI | Karad | Updated: 18-04-2024 17:08 IST | Created: 18-04-2024 17:08 IST
Ram temple as poll plank not working in favour of BJP, says Congress leader Chavan
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Congress stalwart Prithviraj Chavan has claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s reliance on the Ram Mandir as a key poll plank has not resonated with people as it expected.

During an interview with PTI on Tuesday in Karad, located in his native Satara district of western Maharashtra, Chavan highlighted the evolving dynamics of the INDIA bloc, emphasising that despite certain factions abstaining from the opposition alliance, it continues to present a robust challenge to the ruling BJP in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

The seasoned politician and former Maharashtra Chief Minister claimed that in the 2019 polls there was a 7 per cent swing in favour of the BJP due to airstrikes on terror camps inside Pakistan.

''They (BJP) expected Ram Mandir to create that swing (in 2024), but that is not happening. Ram Mandir has failed to click for the BJP,'' Chavan claimed.

Addressing concerns regarding the perceived disparity in seat allocation for the Congress within the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition, the veteran Congress leader refuted claims of unfair treatment.

"We have tried to allocate seats based on past history, local strength (of parties) and electoral merit of candidates. But everyone cannot be pleased," he said.

Disagreements over a couple of Lok Sabha seats will not impact the three-party alliance in rest of the state, he maintained.

As per the seat-sharing formula worked out by the MVA, the Shiv Sena (UBT) will contest in 21 constituencies, the Congress 17 and the NCP (SP) 10.

''There is no junior or senior party in the MVA. Unfortunately, we won just one seat in 2019, while the undivided Shiv Sena (in alliance with BJP) bagged 18 seats. Our entire objective is to win maximum seats and dislodge the BJP from power," the Congress leader asserted.

He said the MVA, consisting of the Congress was a strong alliance within the INDIA bloc.

"The Congress endeavour is to avoid a split in opposition vote. There is 60-65 per cent vote against the BJP. But it gets split among different parties. We don't want that to happen," said Chavan.

Chavan, who is the state Congress campaign committee chief, asserted opposition parties were determined to ensure anti-BJP votes don't get divided.

''We have succeeded to a large extent (in bringing anti-BJP parties under one roof) even though the INDIA bloc is not as powerful as we had originally thought as some key components are not with us,'' noted the 78-year-old politician.

The INDIA alliance by and large has been successful in putting up a fight against the BJP, which along with its coalition partners, is eying more than 400 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, he said.

The Congress-dominated grouping, an amalgamation of more than two dozen parties opposed to the BJP, took shape last year to challenge the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.

He expressed confidence that Lok Sabha poll results, when declared on June 4, will surprise all, especially in Maharashtra, which has 48 seats, the second highest after Uttar Pradesh (80).

''The MVA will do very well (in Maharashtra) and win more seats than the ruling Mahayuti alliance. Results will surprise all," said the former Union minister.

Chavan contended that smaller parties like the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) and the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) will only end up dividing anti-BJP votes.

Speaking about issues before electorates, Chavan maintained rising inflation and unemployment are hurting common citizens.

''In western Maharashtra, the percentage of educated unemployed is very high. There is a lot of (economic) disparity because of massive unemployment,'' the senior Congress leader said.

Another important issue is Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farm products. Sugarcane and soybean growers are in a bad state as market rates (of these commodities) are very low, he noted.

''Exports stopped and then prices dropped. To reduce inflation all burdens are put on farmers,'' he said.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to withdraw the three contentious farm laws in 2021 after a year-long protest, he is pursuing "anti-farmer" policies, Chavan alleged.

The former CM said people were angry with the BJP over how the Shiv Sena and the NCP were split in Maharashtra and the MVA government was toppled in June 2022.

After engineering splits in the Shiv Sena and the NCP, attempts were made to break the Congress, too, but that failed, he noted.

Two to three disgruntled leaders left the Congress, but the party remains intact and it is now the largest opposition political formation in the state assembly, noted the MLA from Karad South.

The BJP is not playing a fair game and the opposition should be allowed to campaign freely, he said and referred to the arrest of a sitting chief minister (Arvind Kejriwal) and freezing of bank accounts of the Congress to allege obstruction in electioneering.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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