Speaking to mediapersons, Patole posed several questions to counter Gadkari’s development plank. “They hastily inaugurated the Metro but is it running? They built cement roads but haven’t they caused unprecedented flooding on July 6, last year? Gadkari had promised 50,000 jobs per year. Now, he says he has provided 25,000 only. And the BJP has virtually finished Nagpur Municipal Corporation by outsourcing all developmental works to Maha Metro. They have outsourced water supply to a private company for 24-hour supply. Where is it going? Just see how bad is the condition of government hospitals in the city. Is this what you call development?” he asked.
Patole accused Gadkari of spreading “falsehood” on the creation of a separate Vidarbha state. “He had given a written assurance to create Vidarbha state. They had government in Centre and the state. Why didn’t they do it? And he now threatens those raising the issue with physical assault,” he said while referring to a recent incident where some Vidarbha activists were beaten up in a rally after Gadkari shouted — “thokun kadhu (will beat you up)”.
On his stand on statehood, Patole said, “It’s on record. I had introduced a private member bill on statehood in Parliament and stalled work in the state Legislature on the issue for two days.”
Asked about the outsider tag, having represented Bhandara and Gondia till 2017, Patole said: “If (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi can fight from Varanasi, why can’t I fight from Nagpur? I have my house here. My children study here and I am also a voter here.”
Patole also raised the issue of land being given to Ramdev’s Patanjali group at Multi-modal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN) at “throwaway price”. He claimed that MIHAN is working on only those projects that had comes its way during the Congress regime.
On allegedly facing Dalit opposition due to his reported shielding of perpetrators of the Khairlanji massacre — four members of a Dalit family were lynched in 2006 — Patole said: “If it were true, people would have thrown me out of public life by now. I won the Assembly election in 2009 and Lok Sabha poll in 2014. What I had said after Khairlanji is on legislative record. I had also demanded equal punishment for the perpetrators of the gruesome murder of a Teli community girl during that period.”
Congress had nominated Patole from Nagpur following internecine wars between various factions within the city party unit. When he arrived in the city on Friday, he was received by several local party leaders, presenting a picture of unity.