With Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole indicating that the party will contest the forthcoming polls alone and not as partners of Maha Vikas Aghadi Alliance, Union Minister Ramdas Athawale said that Congress is weaker than NCP and Shiv Sena and should avoid contesting the elections alone.
Speaking to ANI, Mr Athawale said, “The Maha Vikas Aghadi government was made with the help of 42 Congress MLAs. Nana Patole should speak to Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar directly over the appointment of the chief minister from their party for 2-2.5 years. If it does not happen, then they (Congress) should withdraw from the alliance.”
He said the strength of the Congress party is less than NCP and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and fighting on their own is not going to benefit.
Mr Athawale’s statement comes amid the growing discontent in Maha Vikas Aghadi, especially Congress who indicated that it may opt for fighting the elections separately.
Asked about poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar, the union minister said, “Not all opposition parties can come together under the leadership of Sharad Pawar. Some may say it will be under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi while other may say Rahul Gandhi…It is not going to happen. In the 2024 elections, the government will be formed under the leadership of Narendra Modi.”
He said Shiv Sena should take the support of the BJP to run the government where the chief minister can be from the Shiv Sena for 2.5 years and from the BJP for the rest of the term.
“Uddhav Thackeray ji recently met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If Congress gets separated then the Maha Vikas Aghadi government will come in minority, then the only alternative is BJP. Either Shiv Sena can support BJP or the NCP. For Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray ji should make an alliance with BJP. The formula can be like Uddhav Thackeray completes 2.5 years as the chief minister and Devendra Fadnavis can serve the rest 2.5 years,” added Mr Athawale.