The Shiv Sena, in its mouthpiece Saamana, struck a conciliatory stance acknowledging the Congress as the largest Opposition party but also asked it to work towards keeping its dispersed vote bank together. The Congress had expressed its displeasure over Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s statement on Congress leadership.
“Congress leaders say it is the largest party and the alliance should be led by the largest party. We do not have a different opinion. Our best wishes to the party for its journey,” said the editorial in the party mouthpiece.
It further said regional parties in different states have created their own space over time. Traditional votes of Dalits, Muslims and OBCs for the Congress have dispersed and the party needs to find a solution to it, it added.
The editorial further said the issue is not about who will lead the UPA. “But the issue is to strengthen the UPA to challenge the BJP. If the Congress is capable of doing it, then we welcome it. But the expectation is that the largest party should take a high jump instead of walking on the ground. People want a change and the question is about who will give alternative leadership to BJP,” it added.
The Sena further sought to justify its stand by stating that there is a vacuum in the Opposition. “If we expect that the scattered opposition should come under one flag, then why do our friends get hurt?” asked the Sena.
On Monday, senior Congress leader and PWD minister Ashok Chavan had said the three parties (Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress) have come together based on Common Minimum Programme to keep the BJP at bay. But the Congress has not given up on its ideologies, and there will be no compromise on the CMP or the party’s interests, he added.
The remarks from the Congress came after an editorial in Saamana asked for the expansion of the UPA citing the weak opposition in the country and batted for NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s appointment to UPA chairperson’s post.
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