Mumbai: After NCP chief Sharad Pawar gave a piece of advice to Congress, which shares powers with Shiv Sena and NCP in Maharashtra, saying it should accept the fact that it no longer holds sway from 'Kashmir to Kanyakumari' like it once did, the state Congress chief Nana Patole in his reaction said the leaders who were entrusted with power by the Congress eventually betrayed it.
"Congress was never a party of zamindars... Congress gave its land to several leaders for upkeep but they stole it over the years," Patole added. There will be a Congress prime minister in the country in 2024, he noted.
When asked for his comment, Public Work Minister Ashok Chavan declined while other leaders also preferred to keep mum.
However, during the off-the-record conversation, senior Congress leaders claimed Pawar has painted a true picture of the Congress party and it is high time to take slew of actions for the revival and geared up to take on BJP ahead of next general election.
A former minister, who is Pawar’s critic, told the Free Press Journal, "Undoubtedly, Congress is a nationwide party but it lacks a strong organisation base which used to be its strength in the past. Even though the Nehru-Gandhi family holds key, it no more ensures victory that needs to be accepted and the party has to start afresh. The party will have to without further delays elect a new president or convince Rahul Gandhi to take the mantle again. Weak organisation will further spoil poll prospects.’’ He said it is a wake-up call for the party to focus on strengthening the organisation and take a proactive role in bringing together like-minded and secular parties against BJP.
In Maharashtra too, Congress, which used to head the government, is now sharing power with Shiv Sena which is in the driver's seat.
Patole’s going solo resolve has not gone down well within the party as a section strongly insists that Congress while staying in power should exploit an opportunity to rejuvenate first and later geared for contesting polls independently. "Congress cannot undermine the alliance between Shiv Sena and NCP as they are currently focusing on consolidation,’’ a senior party office-bearer noted.