The Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi and the BJP, locked in a fierce fight for the six Rajya Sabha seats, elections to which are scheduled on June 10, are busy luring Independents and smaller parties to get their support for respective nominees.
A day after an Independent legislator, Ashish Jaiswal, alleged that ministers from the MVA government had demanded a cut in development works and also from the funds earmarked for various schemes, the MVA ministers have been promising the moon to Independent legislators and smaller parties to keep them in good humour and seek votes for MVA nominees.
Some ministers have promised more funds for a slew of infrastructure projects, water supply and irrigation, the upgradation of health infrastructure and more importantly, for civic and local amenities which are always a crucial subject, ahead of upcoming local and civic body polls.
Independents and smaller parties are angry over the lack of direct communication or meetings with the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. One of the legislators claimed that he had made over 50 phone calls to the CM’s official residence seeking a meeting but in the last two-and-a-half years, not a single meeting has been organized. So, the Shiv Sena, in particular, is promising appointments with the CM and hearing for Independents and smaller parties.
A senior MVA minister told The Free Press Journal, “It is true that legislators have multiple demands as they want allocation of funds for their constituencies on a priority basis. Independent legislators and smaller parties may feel that they are neglected when it comes to fund allocation and the implementation of various development schemes. They have been assured that funds will be released soon and they will have a say during the project planning.”
Further, they have also been assured appointments on various state government undertakings.
On the other hand, the BJP, which is heavily banking on its party-led government at the Centre, is wooing Independents and smaller parties by promising funds from various Central departments. The saffron party is also promising them relief from probes by the Central iInvestigation agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation and Income Tax. This is important, as MVA partners have alleged misuse of Central probe agencies against their leaders as a part of vendetta politics.
A BJP leader, who is currently involved in the party’s poll strategy, said the BJP-led government at the Centre has been providing funds for infrastructure projects including roads, highways, airports, ports, apart from the social sector. “The state unit will certainly try to take up such projects from the constituencies of Independents and smaller parties who complained about being sidelined by the MVA government,” he noted.
MVA nominees for the RS election include two from the Shiv Sena-Sanjay Raut and Sanjay Pawar, the NCP’s Praful Patel and the Congress party’s Imran Pratpgarhi. The BJP has fielded Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mahadik. Seven candidates will be vying for six seats on June 10.
Samajwadi Party & secularism
The Samajwadi Party, with two legislators, which is supporting the MVA government, said on Tuesday that the government should prove its secular credentials and character. At this point, the party is choosing to keep its cards close to its chest.
Days after party legislator Abu Azmi, in a letter to the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, questioned him over secularism, another legislator, Rais Shaikh, at his meeting with senior Shiv Sena minister Anil Parab expressed serious displeasure over Thackeray making loud claims over Hindutva. Shaikh reminded Parab that the government was formed on the basis of a common minimum programme, with secularism as its key feature.
Besides, Shaikh said the government should tell what it has done for the minority community in the state. “What happened to the Minority Finance Commission and Haj Committee? Already, our senior leader Abu Azmi has addressed a letter to the CM and we expect a reply, as the people of Maharashtra should know,” he added.
Shaikh declined to divulge details on the party’s stand on the Rajya Sabha election. “The Samajwadi Party is with the MVA. However, our leader Abu Azmi has not revealed strategy for Rajya Sabha polling. I will do as per his bidding, as he (Azmi) is our leader,” he said.