THE Opposition led by Congress and NCP Tuesday put up a show of strength near the legislature here with a 20,000-strong ‘Janakrosh Halla Bol Morcha’ ostensibly to protest “injustice to farmers” by the BJP-Shiv Sena government in the state. The underlying theme of the congregation seemed to be putting up a possible united front against the ruling alliance in the 2019 elections.
Leaders like NCP’s Praful Patel and state Congress chief Ashok Chavan stated that the two parties could together wrest power in 2019. They, however, also said the morcha was not launched with the intention of political unity but it was an effort to unitedly fight for the farmers’ cause.
The morcha was led by NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and attended by senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Congress state in-charge Mohan Prakash, NCP state chief Sunil Tatkare, former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, NCP MP Supriya Sule, Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi, Republican Party of India’s Jogendra Kawade and former Nagpur MP Vilas Muttemwar, among others.
Without any reference to the 2019 elections, Pawar said, “If the government doesn’t budge from its adamant stand and if the chief minster continues to speak with a threatening language, we have the power to throw out his government.”
The reference was to Fadnavis’ remark at a press conference ahead of the winter session that he would counter the Opposition’s ‘Halla Bol’ with ‘Dallamar’ retort. “It doesn’t suit the chief minister to speak in such a language,” Pawar said, appealing to the Opposition colleagues to take the fight to all the villages and tell people not to repay debt and power bills.
Pawar also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying, “He should be ashamed (laj vatli pahije) to raise suspicion against former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose integrity is doubted by none. The PM recently said a meeting was held in Delhi at the instance of a former Pakistani diplomat to discuss the possible chief minister of Gujarat… Instead of solving people’s problems, he is roping in Pakistan in every other thing.”
Pawar also referred to a report in The Indian Express quoting FAO on Tuesday, which he said had praised India for record farm production during the times of Manmohan Singh. Pawar warned, “The threatening CM may put us in jail but we will eventually throw his government out.”
Azad also targeted the Prime Minister, saying, “He gave false promises before coming to power but failed to deliver them. One such promise was given in Yavatmal district, where he had assured the farmers to pay 50 per cent over and above cost of production. He had also said he would bring back black money and deposit Rs 15 lakh in everybody’s account. Nothing of that sort has happened. The PM has made some objectionable remarks against former PM Manmohan Singh. This is clearly showing that the ground is slipping from beneath his feet in Gujarat. The farmers in Maharashtra are facing a lot of distress and hence this Janakrosh Halla Bol rally. We will now take this to Parliament after two days.”
Praful Patel, who had been camping in Gujarat for his party, observed that Gujarat is in for a change of guard. “If we all here work in a largehearted manner, change would be inevitable even in Maharashtra in 2019,” he said.
Ashok Chavan said, “If we work together, we can come to power in 2019. Of course, this agitation is not for power but to secure justice for farmers.”
“Recent National Crime Records Bureau statistics show that Maharashtra is among the top-ranking states in terms of crime incidence,” Chavan said.