Maharashtra: Time to keep BJP out of power, says farmer leader Raju Shetti

Manoj Dattatrye More
Shetti said in case the Congress leaders are finding it difficult to convince Sonia Gandhi about the need to keep BJP out of power in Maharashtra, he was ready to meet her

Smaller parties, which are in alliance with the Congress and the NCP, appear to be in favour of a government in Maharashtra that does not include the BJP, even if it meant joining hands with the Shiv Sena. Swabhimani Paksha leader Raju Shetti said Monday he has “no problem in agreeing to a government” that does not include the BJP.

On Monday, after meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said they will take smaller parties into confidence regarding the talks with Shiv Sena. He said though smaller parties have not won many seats, they still remained a strong part of the Congress-NCP alliance.

He specifically named Swabhimani Paksha led by Raju Shetti. “It may have won only one seat but has been a key part of the alliance,” he said. When approached for comment, Shetti said he was in favour of a government in Maharashtra which does not include BJP. “We have no problem in agreeing to a government minus the BJP,” he said.

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Shetti said in case the Congress leaders are finding it difficult to convince Sonia Gandhi about the need to keep BJP out of power in Maharashtra, he was ready to meet her. “I want to meet Sonia Gandhi and tell her about the need to keep BJP out of power. BJP was targeting Congress-NCP leaders and was making lives of farmers more miserable. There is a desperate need for everyone to join hands and keep BJP out of power in Maharashtra,” said Shetti.

Demanding that Raju Shetti be made the deputy chief minister in the new dispensation, leaders of the Swabhimani Paksha said farmers in Maharashtra have been in trouble and the previous government failed to resolve their issues. “Raju Shetti understands the problems of farmers better than anyone in the state. He is an ideal choice for the deputy CM’s post since the Shiv Sena is gunning for the CM’s post,” said a senior leader of the party.

Another party leader said if Shetti is made the home minister, he will first put leaders of BJP who were accused of corruption behind bars. “It is time to launch a counter attack against the BJP, which has been targeting opposition leaders. It should be taught a lesson,” he said.

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Shetti said the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena alliance was capable of providing a strong, farmer-friendly and non-corrupt government. “If our government comes into being, it will certainly be better than the BJP’s,” he said.

After Pawar’s statement on Monday, Shetti said he has taken the initiative to talk to other smaller parties. “I have spoke to leaders of other parties like Hitendra Thakur, Jayant Patil and Abu Azmi. We will soon be holding a meeting to discuss the possibility of a government formation,” he said.

Cong leaders confident of an alternative govt

Though NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s statement on Monday caused confusion in political circles as to whether NCP-Congress is ready to extend support to the Shiv Sena in government formation or not, state Congress leaders were confident that a Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress government will soon take charge.

After meeting Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on Monday, Pawar said the two leaders held discussions but did not discuss anything about Shiv Sena or government formation.

“We discussed in detail Maharashtra’s political situation. I have briefed her about the situation. After this briefing, we didn’t discuss other issues.” He added, “A decision will be taken after taking the opinion of senior leaders of both parties. On the basis of that, we will decide the future course of action,” he said.

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Throwing light on Pawar’s statement, a top Congress leader from Maharasthra said, “Pawar’s statement does not make it clear whether the Congress and NCP will form the government in association with Shiv Sena. This might have caused confusion...I think he kept the suspense going. Pawar tried to send out a signal that Congress and NCP do not want to show that they are too eager to form the government.”

The senior Congress leader, however, said Sonia Gandhi was in favour of an alternative government to keep the BJP away from power in Maharashtra. “As far as I know, the Congress president is also positive about formation of a Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena government. The Congress wants to hit back at the vendetta politics being practised by the BJP,” he said.

Another senior Congress leader, who is part of the Congress’s core team in Maharashtra, said, “Pawar’s statement should be read with the statement made by Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. The Congress spokesperson said Congress and NCP leaders will hold discussions. Similarly, Pawar also said they will take smaller parties into confidence. These two statements show that future plan is being worked out. So, we are confident that a new government is on the way.”

When contacted, former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said Pawar’s statement makes it clear that discussions are underway between Congress and NCP leaders regarding a future plan.