Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday said the Congress has no intention of breaking the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) — where it is in alliance with NCP and Shiv Sena — and the party will support the state government for its full five-year term.
“The Congress will not break the three-party alliance which formed the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. We are fully confident that the MVA government will complete its entire five-year term. This alliance was formed to keep the BJP out of power and therefore there is no question of withdrawing support to the government from the Congress’ side,” Chavan told The Indian Express.
Chavan’s response comes after consternation in the MVA over Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Nana Patole’s statement that the party will contest all future elections on its own. Even Mumbai Congress chief Bhai Jagtap had made similar remarks. Patole had even expressed his desire to become the chief minister.
The comments seemed to have upset the Shiv Sena particularly, with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray indirectly attacking the Congress last week during the party’s foundation day celebrations.
Refuting claims that the Congress was trying to weaken the MVA government, Chavan said, “There is nothing wrong in saying that the Congress will contest all elections on its own strength. If we say that we will contest one third of the seats, then we will have only 80 seats out of the 288 seats…Then our workers and leaders will not feel energised to work on other seats…”.
Stating that Thackeray should not take the MPCC chief’s statement seriously, Chavan said,”Patole has made the statement in a bid to motivate the party rank and file. He has been given the responsibility of revitalising and strengthening the party. His statement should be read in that context. The CM should not take it seriously.”
Chavan pointed out that the decision about the three-party alliance was taken by Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “The party leadership will take the final call about the alliance. It will not be decided in Mumbai,” he said.
NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had expressed similar views last week. “The decision about forming the alliance was taken by NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. Any future decision related to the alliance will also be taken by them,” he had said.
Asked about the rumoured ‘back-door diplomacy’ between the Shiv Sena and BJP, Chavan said, “The BJP seems to have realised that the chemistry between Devendra Fadnavis and Uddhav Thackeray was not good… And that is why they seem to have opened a direct channel of communication with the Shiv Sena. But this does not mean there is an immediate threat to the MVA government. At least, not as of now…It is also rumoured that Fadnavis will be included in the central cabinet to ease tensions in the state between BJP and Sena.”
On whether he was in favour of MVA contesting the assembly and parliamentary polls in alliance, Chavan said both elections were far away and therefore he didn’t want to comment on them yet.
The former chief minister said the Congress’s primary focus was on the local polls. “We will see how the party fares in these polls… it will help decide our future course of action,” he said.
When asked whether the chief minister takes advice from him, Chavan, who had played a key role in the formation of MVA government, said, “…If I have to give any a suggestion or advice, I write to him.”