A retired Bombay High Court judge, known to be a fierce critic of right-wing politics, has stirred the electoral pot in Aurangabad. At 77, B G Kolse-Patil has decided to contest from Aurangabad Lok Sabha constituency on a Janata Dal(S) seat and is seeking the support of all parties, “except the BJP and Shiv Sena”.
Kolse-Patil, who claims that he along with retired SC judge P B Sawant were at the forefront of organising the controversial Elgaar Parishad in Pune in December 2017, but “police could not do anything” against him, says his primary objective is to raise his voice and put up a strong fight against the communal forces “that are ruling the country”.
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“Not only are they trying to saffronise our democratic institutions, but their agenda is to destroy them… I want to stop this,” he says, adding that he wants to “put an end to the Gujarat experiment by the Modi-Shah team”.
Fresh from a recent speech at Harvard and rolling up his sleeves for the electoral battle, Kolse-Patil says he has a special attachment for Aurangabad where he has worked since 1971-72. “I was a judge of the Aurangabad bench and led the agitation for setting up the Aurangabad bench of the high court,” he says.
Inspired by the call of Prakash Ambedkar, who heads the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi in Maharashtra, the retired judge says he will not limit himself to Aurangabad contituency. “I will campaign against communal forces across the country,” says Kolse-Patil, who was a strong voice for the Maratha community during their agitation for reservation.
Will he support parties such as the Congress and NCP, and AAP, SP, BSP, Trinamool Congress? “Why not? If they call me for campaigning, I will surely go,” he says, adding that he was looking forward to sharing the stage with NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in Aurangabad.
Stating that all secular parties will have to come together, the retired judge says, “Since our agenda is common — to defeat communal forces — I hope all secular parties will join hands. I will do everything possible to bring them together,” he says.
The Aurangabad seat has been held by the Shiv Sena for four terms, with sitting MP Chandrakant Khaire winning it with comfortable margins.
While NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said they would extend support to Kolse-Patil only if JD(S) leader Deve Gowda holds talks with Congress and NCP leaders on joining the Opposition alliance, Kolse-Patil claimed Gowda had already spoken to the leaders and told them that the Aurangabad seat should be allotted to the party.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said the party’s central leadership would take a decision.