Former Maharashtra CM and Congress candidate from Bhokar, ASHOK CHAVAN, tells KAVITHA IYER that the electorate is ready to vote on issues such as agrarian crisis and debt relief. Excerpts:
Have you been hemmed in by circumstances so that you cannot leave your constituency to campaign for other candidates?
This is just systematic propaganda by the BJP… There is a week of campaign left and now is when the heat picks up… the campaign is progressing smoothly. Candidates have been selected judiciously, at least in Marathwada…
Will the departure of senior leaders from the Congress and NCP seriously damage the alliance’s chances?
At least in Nanded, we have nurtured party workers… In some areas, there are problems, I don’t deny that… I see the situation as an opportunity to cultivate a new rung of leadership.
But that still means you will be hit by the rebels this election?
Sena-BJP has more rebels, this is affecting the ruling party more than us because of false assurances given to those who joined.
The Lok Sabha polls saw the electorate voting on issues of nationalism and a muscular foreign policy while issues such as the agrarian distress did not seem to sway them. Will you try to counter it this time?
The Lok Sabha election was different. This time, people are saying these issues do not concern us. How does Article 370 in Kashmir make any difference to voters in Nanded or in Maharashtra? The real issues are agrarian crisis, debt relief that has not reached a very large percentage of farmers, economic crisis.
Top leaders of the BJP and Sena have been roped in to defeat you in Bhokar. How does it affect your campaign?
BJP (working) president JP Nadda was in town. If the party president has to come to Bhokar to campaign, it means the selection of your candidate is wrong.