Election 2019: Raj Thackeray is helping us, Ambedkar is helping BJP, says Prithviraj Chavan

Updated: Apr 13, 2019, 12:24 IST | PTI |

The former Maharashtra chief minister said except Solapur, where Ambedkar himself is in the fray, there will be a straight fight everywhere between the alliances led by Congress-NCP and BJP-Shiv Sena

Prithviraj Chavan
Prithviraj Chavan

Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan Tuesday slammed Prakash Ambedkar for `trying to split' anti-BJP votes, and praised MNS chief Raj Thackeray for his effective campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ambedkar, a prominent Dalit face, is contesting the election under the banner of Vanchit Aghadi, joining hands with the AIMIM, after alliance talks with the Congress fell through.

"Ambedkar's ulterior motive is clear. He wants to divide anti-Modi votes. Ambedkar hopes that the fact he is direct descendant of Dr B R Ambedkar will get him votes. He tried to use Ambedkar's name in Akola in 2014 but came in third," Chavan told PTI in an interview.

The former Maharashtra chief minister said except Solapur, where Ambedkar himself is in the fray, there will be a straight fight everywhere between the alliances led by Congress-NCP and BJP-Shiv Sena.

"I don't think Ambedkar will make a dent in Congress-NCP's prospects. Dalits should reflect that voting for Ambedkar will be like helping Modi. If you want to support Modi, vote for him directly," he said. Minority communities will vote for a candidate who the has the best chance of defeating Modi, Chavan said.

"BSP, Samajwadi Party, Vanchit Aghadi will not impact the Congress-NCP's chances as it is made out to be. Except Ambedkar, none of his candidates stand a chance...BSP has some influence in East Vidarbha. But the party may not succeed this time," he said. Ambedkar is facing Congress veteran Sushil Kumar Shinde and BJP's Jaisidhheshwar Swamy in Solapur. Asked about MNS chief Raj Thackeray's blistering attack on Modi and the BJP at a rally here last week, Chavan said, "Raj Thackeray is campaigning very effectively against Modi, using audio-visual presentation. It is putting the prime minister in correct light. Raj needs to be complimented."

Asked why the MNS was not made part of Congress-NCP alliance, Chavan said, "Our leaders in Mumbai had issues with that because of the past background. I don't want to get into it. But Raj Thackeray's campaign helps all anti-Modi forces. It is advantage for Congress-NCP, clearly." The Congress leader dismissed the talk about rumblings in Maharashtra Congress over selection of candidates and failure of the party to get Ahmednagar as part of the seat-sharing pact with the NCP.

"The issue is over, and now we are in campaign mode. Each and every seat is important for us," he said. Sujay Vikhe Patil, son of Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, joined the BJP and secured ticket from Ahmednagar after the NCP refused to cede the seat to the Congress. Chavan also said that Modi sought to make the election presidential-style, but the Congress did not fall into his trap.

"BJP wants to make 2019 Lok Sabha campaign a personality-driven contest. It has withdrawn from development-oriented campaign. It is not talking about promises it made in 2014. They are not even talking about promises which they have fulfilled since issues which were not handled will also be spoken about (then)," he said.

"Sab ka saath sabka vikas (Development for all, which was BJP's slogan earlier) is over," Chavan added. Modi is telling people at his rallies `I am the leader' and asking opposition parties who is your leader, Chavan said, adding, "We are not going to fall into this trap. Inadvertently we did fall into this trap in 2014." Congress is focusing on BJP's performance and future dangers of continuation of the BJP in power, he said. Stating that there is acute agrarian distress, he said, "No amount of sloganeering, national security agenda can divert attention from this issue.

"In Chhattisgarh, agrarian anger defeated BJP. There is no success for BJP in rural areas. Congress is going to question the government on all issues including national security," the former Union minister said.

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