The Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) state president Jayant Patil on Thursday alleged Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had secretly met chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in a Mumbai hotel two days ago, hinting that both parties were holding alliance talks despite public posturing of there being a tussle between them ahead of the 2019 polls .
“He (Uddhav Thackeray) went to meet CM Fadnavis late night in a hotel at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) despite making claims that he doesn’t care about forging an alliance with the BJP,” said Patil, adding that both the ruling parties will come together for the election. Patil was addressing a public meeting in Mahad in Raigad district as he kicked off the NCP’s campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
While the Sena called the NCP comments “immature,” the BJP refused to comment.
“I would say this is an immature statement made by the state NCP president. Uddhavji doesn’t need to meet CM Fadnavis secretly. We are an alliance partner of the BJP in the state and at Centre. Also, Fadnavis is the chief of the state and Uddhavji can meet him whenever he wants to,” said senior Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut.
BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said they don’t see a need to react on comments like this. “Our stand over alliance with Shiv Sena has not changed,” Bhandari said.
The NCP through its ‘Niradhar Parivartan Yatra’ will cover all the 23 constituencies that it plans to contest in the next 30 days. The NCP will contest the Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the Congress.
The NCP kicked off the yatra with a visit to Raigad fort of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji and Chavdar Tale, a lake in Raigad district, made famous by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, who led a satyagraha of Dalits here in 1927, to open up public water tank for the untouchables. The decision to start the yatra in Mahad is a show of respect to two of the foremost visionaries of the state, said NCP leaders. While NCP chief Sharad Pawar , who was to address the meeting was not present, the entire second-rung leadership of the party including Patil, former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, senior leaders Chhagan Bhujbal and Sunil Tatkare were present.
“We have come here to take blessings of Chhatrapati Shivaji who was the first person to start a successful movement against the then rulers. Our yatra is also aimed at bringing change in Maharashtra as well as at the Centre,” said Ajit Pawar at Raigad Fort.
Senior NCP leader Bhujbal slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over instances of violence against Dalits and minorities. “Where is law and order left in the country? Not only common people, even police personnel are not safe in the BJP government. A police officer, Subodh Kumar, was brutally killed in Bulandshahr (Uttar Pradesh) by a mob over cow killing,” he said while addressing the meeting. Referring to the Rafale jet controversy, Bhujbal said, “Sell tea, but do not sell the country.”
Both the Congress and NCP are preparing to launch a joint election campaign from February. The joint election campaign is likely to be kick-started through a joint rally that is likely to be addressed by both Congress president Rahul Gandhi and NCP chief Pawar.
Going by the NCP’s plan, the leaders will hold two to three public rallies in each Lok Sabha constituency they plan to contest in, in a bid to reach out to the masses. The yatra will conclude in Mumbai to cover Mumbai North East parliamentary constituency after covering all the regions in the next one month. However, after covering Konkan region, the leaders will split into two groups — one will head for Marathwada and another for North Maharashtra as they have to cover all 23 Lok Sabha constituencies in a month.
First Published: Jan 11, 2019 00:49 IST
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