Ahead of the highly anticipated INDIA alliance meeting, leaders from the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition addressed the media in Mumbai, outlining their vision and objectives. The press conference shed light on various key issues, including the reduction in LPG gas prices, the upcoming INDIA alliance meeting, and their overarching agenda.
Speaking at the press conference, Sanjay Raut, a spokesperson of the Shiv Sena (UBT), highlighted the significant impact of the INDIA alliance. He mentioned the recent slash in LPG gas prices by Rs 200 and attributed it to the collaborative efforts of the coalition. Raut emphasized that this move was a direct result of the unity exhibited by the alliance members.
China will retreat as INDIA alliance grows stronger: Raut
Raut also referred to a statement by Lalu Prasad Yadav, where Yadav metaphorically mentioned sitting on "Modi's neck." Raut clarified that this sentiment was not personal but rather a collective stand against what they perceived as a dictatorship.
Foreseeing the outcomes of the INDIA alliance's efforts, Raut asserted that as the alliance progresses, China would retreat from areas like Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, implying that the coalition's unity would have a positive impact.
Underlining the significance of the upcoming INDIA alliance meeting, Raut stated that all parties that had participated in the Patna meeting would also be present in this meeting. He noted that Chief Ministers from six states and senior leaders of various INDIA parties were expected to attend the gathering in Mumbai.
INDIA vote percentage higher than BJP in 2019: Chavan
Ashok Chavan, former Maharashtra CM and senior Congress leader, provided insights into the planning of the meeting. He highlighted that the number of participating parties had increased from 26 to 28, showcasing growing support. Chavan also took pride in Maharashtra's contributions to the nation's progress and expressed satisfaction that the meeting was hosted in Mumbai.
Chavan emphasised the collective strength of all INDIA parties, underscoring that in the 2019 elections, these parties garnered over 23 crore votes, surpassing the BJP's 22 crore votes. He attributed the BJP's victory to the fragmented opposition and stressed the positive developmental agenda of the alliance.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar, affirmed that the INDIA alliance aimed to provide an alternative platform for the country's transformation and development.
Thackeray's scathing tirade against BJP
Uddhav Thackeray, the Chief of Shiv Sena (UBT), launched a scathing criticism against the Central government for its decision to lower gas prices on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan. Thackeray remarked, "Have they neglected their sisters for the past nine years? Now, out of the blue, they decide to cut prices. The motive behind this reduction in gas prices is that the government itself is on gas. Ye public hai sab janti hai (The public knows it all)."
Thackeray also criticised the BJP's recent call to tie rakhis from Muslim women and suggested that if they truly wanted to honor women, they should begin with figures like Bilkis Bano and the Manipur women who were mistreated.
Drawing a parallel between the BJP's governance and the British Raj, Thackeray remarked, "The British also engaged in developmental initiatives, yet we needed to forcefully resist their presence to attain our independence. We strive for development, but we equally cherish our freedom."
Delving further into the context of INDIA alliance, Thackeray stated, "Those opposition parties that consider the entire nation as their extended family have united to safeguard 'Bharat Mata'."
Expressing his contentment, Nana Patole stated, "We're delighted that the INDIA alliance meeting is scheduled to occur in Maharashtra. In Bengaluru, we were a coalition of 26 parties, and now in Maharashtra, we have expanded to 28. Just as INDIA grows, similarly China's influence will diminish."
Mayawati maintains dialogue with BJP: Pawar alleges
Responding to queries about Mayawati's absence from the alliance, Sharad Pawar clarified that her position was not yet clear, as she had maintained dialogue with the BJP in the past. He noted that her joining the INDIA alliance would depend on her ultimate decision.
In response to speculation about the prime ministerial candidate for the INDIA alliance, Thackeray humorously stated that the alliance had numerous potential candidates, questioning whether the BJP had any other viable choices than PM Modi.
The press conference also addressed internal matters, including split factions within parties. Pawar assured that those who had left the party would find their place among the electorate's decisions. In a lighter note, Thackeray referenced Shiv Sena's critical commentary on their alliance partners, humorously acknowledging that critiquing allies was a common trait and sharing an anecdote of Shiv Sena's previous interactions with the BJP.
The meeting's agenda is anticipated to include a proposal for the establishment of regional or state-specific groups. This measure aims to preempt seat-sharing challenges that may arise in states where multiple parties within the Opposition alliance hold significant influence. As the Lok Sabha elections are slated for the upcoming year, this proactive approach seeks to address potential complications.
Moreover, the session's dynamics will be intriguing as discussions unfold around appointing the alliance's convenor and selecting members for the coordination committee. These pivotal decisions are expected to transpire over the course of the next two days.
(With inputs from Abhijit Mulye)