Three-time Congress MLA from Sillod and former minister Abdul Sattar resigned as president of the Aurangabad District Congress after the party won two and lost two municipal councils in Aurangabad district. Sattar, a one-time protege of former chief minister Ashok Chavan, claimed that he was resigning to protest the behaviour of senior Congress leaders who have failed to campaign for the party outside their own turfs. Excerpts from an interview to Zeeshan Shaikh
What made you resign as president of the Aurangabad District Congress despite leading the party to a win in two councils in the district?
It was pure frustration over the behaviour of state leaders. Not a single senior Congress leader from the state turned up to campaign in our district for the elections. This was in spite of the repeated requests by me to everyone from Ashok Chavan to Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil. There are some constituencies where we lost by a few votes. Campaigning by senior leaders would have instilled confidence in the cadre and the people. You had senior leaders from all political parties, including the chief minister, personally campaigning in this district. Rural parts of this area have firmly stood behind the Congress but none of the leaders came to campaign. You cannot take an area and its people who have supported you for granted. If this is how senior leaders who have the responsibility of expanding the party base behave then we are heading for difficult times.
Why do you think party leaders avoided campaigning?
They would be in a better position to explain the reasons but everyone seems to be keen on saving their own turf. I had told them if they were not interested in doing anything for the party they should at least come for defending their own honour. Throughout this campaign, allegations of corruption were levelled against the state Congress leadership. I had told them to come and clear the air with the public. None of them responded to my call. Is this how we ensure the growth of a party? In our party people are only interested in becoming chief ministers and ministers when in power and leader of opposition when they are out of power. They do not want to do anything for the sake of the party’s good. It is time that the central leadership looks into the behaviour of such leaders before things become difficult.
You are close to former chief minister Ashok Chavan, why did he not heed your call?
A helicopter ride from Nanded (Ashok Chavan’s home town) to Aurangabad takes little less than 40 minutes. If people wanted to come, they could have come easily. I am surprised why he did not step out to campaign. He is after all the state president of the Congress party. It is his responsibility to strengthen the party in the state.
People say that Congress leaders including Chavan were tied up defending their own turfs. Has the eroding support base for the Congress rattled leaders?
An individual can survive in politics only if his party is doing well. People need to work for strengthening the party. However, a culture has seeped in where our senior leaders are only interested in working for their own benefit. They want to become chief ministers and ministers but do not want to do things that will strengthen the party. It is time that such people are held responsible for their behaviour.