Mumbai: Releasing the grand alliance manifesto for the upcoming assembly polls, the state Congress leaders had said, the opposition parties of the state would stand together like a wall to prevent reelection of the saffron alliance.
But days after this announcement, cracks have begun showing already. The Samajwadi Party (SP) has walked out of the alliance, accusing the Congress of betrayal. Calling a press conference on October 2, the senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had announced the SP’s participation in the grand Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance. Chavan had also informed, the SP would be contesting from Mankhurd-Shivaji Nagar, Bhiwandi East and Aurangabad East.
At the event, hinting about the Congress’s dominance, the SP state chief and sitting MLA of the Mankhurd-Shivaji Nagar constituency, Abu Azmi, stated, “The Congress has promised us three seats as of now, but only time will tell if they keep their promise.” It was indeed a matter of time and Azmi’s apprehensions came true.
Speaking to The Free Press Journal, Azmi said Congress leaders had betrayed his party, as they later asked him to let go of seats which had earlier been promised to the SP.
“The Congress has fielded its own candidate from Bhiwandi, a seat which was promised to me first. It has also asked me to give up claim on all the three seats. An NCP corporator also filed his nomination from Mankhurd, which was later withdrawn,” stated Azmi, further informing how the Aurangabad Congress unit was not cooperating with the SP for campaigning.
“The Congress included me, so they could minimize competition. Had I known their plans earlier, I would have fielded more candidates,” he added, also claiming that initially, the Congress had promised him seven seats but later, they mutually agreed on three seats.
From Bhiwandi, the Congress has fielded Santosh Shetty, a former member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), who openly distributed sweets on the day triple talaq was banned and was actively involved in the Babri Masjid demolition.
“I joined the alliance only because I did not want the secular votes to be divided, but Congress has fielded an extremely communal candidate. Congress’s liberal image is nothing but a façade,” claimed Azmi.
Azmi further informed, his party will now be contesting solo from seven seats in Maharashtra, which includes the three seats promised by the Congress as well. Surprisingly Azmi believes it is the seats of Mankhurd, Bhiwandi and Aurangabad which hold out the promise of victory for his party.
Also, the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-CPI (M) has denied it is part of the Congress-NCP alliance. Not only has the Congress asserted the presence of the CPI(M), but the manifesto also carries the symbol of the CPI(M) along with those of other Left parties.
The Left front’s state politburo member, Dr Ajit Navle informed, since the CPI(M) and Congress have severe ideological differences, there can be no alliance between them. However, Navle stated there has been an electoral understanding between them to restrict the rise of saffron parties to power.