With Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis set to resume his mass outreach campaign next week, the opposition on Wednesday accused him of eyeing votes while normalcy is yet to be restored in flood-hit parts of the state. The chief minister will resume his campaign from August 21, said BJP leader Sujitsingh Thakur, who is in-charge of Fadnavis' 'Mahajanadesh Yatra' (Mega Mandate March).
Speaking to reporters in Kolhapur, NCP president Sharad Pawar said Fadnavis seems to be trusting his colleague from Western Maharashtra while deciding to proceed with the 'Mahajanadesh Yatra', which he had suspended in view of the massive floods in the region. Pawar, however, did not name the "colleague" , but he was apparently referring to Maharashtra minister and state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil, who hails from Kolhapur, one of the districts devastated by floods.
"He (Fadnavis) seems to be having trust in his colleague from the region that the latter would handle the situation well and hence, has decided to proceed (with the yatra)," Pawar quipped. Hitting out at Fadnavis, NCP's chief spokesperson Nawab Malik alleged that the chief minister's yatra only caused "mahavinash" (great devastation) in the two Western Maharashtra districts of Kolhapur and Sangli.
"He did not take a decision (on tackling the flood situation) in time and worked blithely. Now, he is again after the Mahajanadesh. This proves it is the election votes which matter to him the most than the concerns and pain of the people. And this is very painful," Malik alleged. Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant seconded Malik.
Sawant said it was expected of Fadnavis to discharge his duties of being a chief minister than undertake the yatra. "It is the character of this government that it feels content with campaigning and trading votes. He will have to answer questions that are there in the minds of people as he proceeds with his Mahajanadesh," Sawant added.
Fadnavis launched the yatra, a mass outreach initiative ahead of the state polls due later this year, from Amravati district in the Vidarbha region on August 1. He, however, suspended the campaign on August 6 in view of the rains wrecking havoc in many parts of the state even as the opposition charged him then with giving priority to the campaign programme.
Earlier, the first phase of the yatra, covering Vidarbha and Nandurbar in North Maharashtra, was supposed to be completed by August 9. As per the new plan, Kolhapur, Pune, Sangli, Satara have been omitted from Fadnavis' campaign, Thakur said.
"The second phase of the programme was earlier supposed to start from August 17, which has now been changed to August 21," he added. Fadnavis had earlier said his yatra is aimed at giving an account to the people of the state what the BJP-led government had done in the last five years.
Life is slowly inching back to normalcy in Kolhapur and Sangli as flood waters have receded in the two districts and the key rivers there are now also flowing below the danger mark, officials said. Till Tuesday, 6.45 lakh people were shifted to safer locations in Kolhapur and Sangli, which have been the worst hit due to flooding triggered by heavy rains in Western Maharashtra and Konkan region..
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