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‘They couldn’t understand their own MLAs, how can they govern the state?’: Independent Maharashtra legislator Prakash Awade on Shiv Sena

Shiv Sena MLAs were pushed to the corners and uncertain about their futures but the party leaders were blind to it, says Ichalkaranji MLA Prakash Awade giving his take on the political crisis in the state.

As the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government faces an uncertain future amid the rebellion led by Shiv Sena MLAs, Awade spoke to The Indian Express about his experience with the regime and his decision to support the BJP. (MLA Prakash Awade/Twitter)

In 2019, Prakash Awade left the Congress and contested the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election as an Independent candidate from the Ichalkaranji assembly constituency in the Kolhapur district. After winning, the Independent MLA has been offering “issue-based” support to the Opposition BJP. As the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government faces an uncertain future amid the rebellion led by Shiv Sena MLAs, Awade spoke to The Indian Express about his experience with the regime and his decision to support the BJP.

After the open rebellion by Shiv Sena MLA against the government, the accusation that Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress ministers were partial towards their party men has been doing the rounds. How accurate are these allegations and what has been your experience with the government?

I would have been the first one to point out how the ministers of this government were partial when it came to the distribution of funds and schemes. In my assembly constituency, there was a concentrated effort to ensure leaders of their party got stronger at my expense. Attempts were made to bypass me and get their leaders promoted. However, being a seasoned player I managed to thaw all such underhand politics.

To give an example, in Ichalkaranji town, we had a brake-testing track for autorickshaws made by taking a loan from a cooperative society. This was to help autorickshaw drivers who otherwise would have to wait for two or more days in Kolhapur to get their vehicles tested. However, just because I was instrumental in getting this made, for the past two-and-a-half years, they refused to sanction this and later, citing some technical issue, did not approve it.

Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, attempts were made to divert jumbo oxygen cylinders and plants from Ichalkaranji to other parts. There have been many such examples which I have flagged for the last two-and-a-half years.

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How evident was the fact that the Shiv Sena MLAs were unhappy with the government?

As soon as the government was formed I could see the MLAs were unhappy with them. They were pushed to the corners and uncertain about their futures. I have spoken about this multiple times. What is surprising is that their (Shiv Sena) leaders were blind to it. The writing was clear on the wall. If they could not understand their own MLAs how can they govern the state?

How has the state government been towards the sugar industry and other industrial sectors? How would you rate its performance in these sectors?

The state government was adept at making announcements but not fulfilling them. A classic example has to be the promise to reduce electricity rates for the textile industry which is the major employment generator in my area. This was announced in the budget but it was never implemented. For the sugar industry, the good days are mostly due to the central government’s policies. The (previous) BJP government in the state was clear about what could be done and could not be done. However, the MVA was not so.

You have been an independent candidate who supports the BJP. Will you be considering officially joining the BJP?

My support for the BJP has always been issue-based. Thus even when I was the district president of Congress in Kolhapur, I supported the central government’s decision to scrap Article 370 as it was the right decision. I continue to support it. As for joining the BJP, the right decision would be taken at the right time.

First published on: 29-06-2022 at 07:25:04 pm
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