MUMBAI: A month after CM Uddhav Thackeray declared that the Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP would contest the forthcoming civic polls in various parts of the state jointly, state Congress president and revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat said he was in favour of his party contesting separately. However, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik and Shiv Sena minister Anil Parab said NCP president Sharad Pawar and Thackeray were keen that the polls must be fought jointly to keep the BJP out of power.
Civic polls are to be held in Kolhapur and Aurangabad, among other places in the state; they will be held in Mumbai in 2022. The new city Congress chief Bhai Jagtap had earlier said the party would fight the BMC polls on its own.“In my opinion, we should contest the polls separately,” Thorat told TOI. Elaborating, he said that if constituents of the Maha Vikas Aghadi contest jointly, there will be complete uncertainty over transfer of votes, and the possibility of large-scale rebellion cannot be ruled out. He however added that “even if we contest the elections separately, we will have to draft a new strategy to keep BJP out of power.”
Asked if there would be a threat to the MVA government if the three parties contested independently, Thorat said, “We have come together on a common minimum programme. I am sure there will be no threat to the government.”
Skill development minister Nawab Malik of the NCP said, “Sharad Pawar’s instructions are clear. Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena should contest the civic polls jointly in the larger interest of the MVA government.”
But he said that in the past, when the state the was ruled by the Congress-NCP alliance, the two parties had contested elections against each other in certain districts, but the alliance had remained intact. “Congress and NCP contested elections separately but it had no adverse impact on the government, it completed its tenure. In fact, the alliance was in power in the state for 14 years,” Malik said.
Sena leader and transport minister Anil Parab said he was confident the polls would be fought jointly by the MVA allies. “I do not see any problem. In my opinion, senior leaders of the three parties will sit together and work out a plan,” he said, adding that regardless of how the elections were fought, there was no danger to the MVA government. “People of Maharashtra have given a mandate to the MVA,” Parab said.
On November 28 last year, the CM had declared that the three parties in the MVA would contest the civic polls together. However, Mumbai Congress president Bhai Jagtap recently said, “Our dream is to have a Congress nominee as mayor of Mumbai.”