Former chief minister Ashok Chavan was credited with the Congress’s impressive performance in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, when the party won 17 seats in the state. As the campaign for the 2014 polls enters its final leg, the Congress, which is battling anti-incumbency, is keen to rehabilitate its star campaigner who has been in political wilderness with the shadow of the Adarsh scam still hanging large. In a telephonic conversation with SANDEEP ASHAR, Chavan ducks controversies and speaks on the Congress’s campaign in Maharashtra.
The buzz is that the Congress will nominate you or wife Amita for the Nanded LS ticket. But there are two views within the party, one which favours the move and other that does not. What is your own personal take?
The party leadership is seized of the matter. I have always abided by the leadership’s decisions. I leave it to the party to decide.
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Your skills as a campaigner and an election strategist were credited the most for Congress’s impressive performance in Maharashtra in 2009. What should be the party’s approach in Maharashtra this time around, when you are battling anti-incumbency and a Narendra Modi wave?
There is no Modi wave. The strategy should be to work towards winning an elections. We are already prepared to meet this objective.
In the Marathawada region, the party is banking on you to deliver, especially after the demise of former chief minister (late) Vilasrao Deshmukh? At present, only two Congress MPs represent the region.
I enjoy a good rapport with party workers. We have already begun campaigning and are much ahead of opponents at this stage. I am confident of an improved performance this time.
Unexpected hailstorm and unseasonal rains have resulted in a extensive damage to crops. The Marathwada region is among the worst affected. What needs to be done?
The situation is grave. The need of the hour is to extend immediate relief to the aggrieved farmers. The state government must take permission of the Election Commission and immediately announce measures including waivers for interest on agri loans. The recovery of loans by banks must be stopped.
There was immense criticism over Rahul Gandhi sharing the dais with you in a rally at Aurangabad recently. How do you take the criticism?
I feel it is unjustified, but have no further comments to make.
Would you like to respond to allegations made against you in the Adarsh housing society scam?
The matter is sub-judice. I do not wish to make any comment.