Modi has taken vikas off the agenda: Prithviraj Chavan

Surabhi Mumbai | Updated on April 07, 2019

The Congress will not let the upcoming elections be dominated by a personality-based campaign, avers senior party leader Prithviraj Chavan. In an interview with BusinessLine, Chavan, who is the former chief minister of Maharashtra and former minister of State in the UPA government, said he believes there are great chances of a Congress-led coalition forming the government in 2019. Excerpts:

What is the Congress’ strategy for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections?

One of the defining issues of the 2014 elections was that we unwittingly got trapped in a personality-based contest. Narendra Modi could get away with abstract promises of achhe din and the ‘Gujarat Model’. There was a plethora of corruption scandals that the UPA got entangled in, although the Congress was very particular in seeking resignations from people who had serious allegations of corruption against them. This time, the Congress is not letting the election turn into a personality-based campaign. We are also asking questions. We will take up the national security agenda, the Hindu terror agenda and satellite weaponry (capability). There are also a lot of unfulfilled development-related promises of the Prime Minister. Even in his first election speech in Maharashtra, there wasn’t a single word about vikas or development. He’s taken it off the agenda as he knows he can’t win that battle.

What outcome do you expect from the elections?

In 2014, out of 273 Lok Sabha seats in the heartland and the cow belt, the BJP alone won 223 seats. Our underlying idea has been to put up one candidate against the BJP’s Hindutva candidate. I think the BJP will win not more than 150-170 seats in the region, while the alliances may win 20-30 seats. This means that 340 seats will be with other parties, the largest of which will most likely be the Congress. My prediction for the elections is a coalition government, led by someone from the Congress. Or alternatively, it could be a non-Congress candidate which all Opposition parties agree on. Even with a huge swing in their favour, Modi is not likely to be the Prime Minister.

The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in Maharashtra is seen to be strong. How will you fare?

The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance was also present in 2014. The Shiv Sena will find it difficult to explain to their people that after four years of criticising the NDA government, why they are suddenly saying it is great. The other issue is that the BJP has not been able to groom the original BJP-RSS Sangh workers, who lifted the party to political power. Instead, they had to hijack, import, coerce and induce people from other parties like the Congress.

Why are you not contesting the Lok Sabha election?

I don’t have a Lok Sabha seat. I contested four times from the Karad constituency, which is now Satara. It has been with the NCP since 1999 and has a popular MP. I didn’t want to go anywhere else.

Published on April 07, 2019

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