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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Milind Deora Splits in Sena NCP led to Congress emerging as primary Oppn force in Maharashtra

Milind Deora: Splits in Sena, NCP led to Congress emerging as primary Oppn force in Maharashtra

Updated on: 18 October,2023 08:08 PM IST  |  Mumbai
mid-day online correspondent |

Congress leader Milind Deora stated that political turmoil in Maharashtra has positioned the grand old party as the main opposition force in the state

Milind Deora: Splits in Sena, NCP led to Congress emerging as primary Oppn force in Maharashtra

Milind Deora/ X

Congress leader Milind Deora, in an interview with PTI, addressed the political upheavals in Maharashtra resulting from divisions within the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party. He emphasized that these disruptions have positioned the Congress as the most prominent opposition force in the state, which will now lead the fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies.

Reflecting on the unexpected alliance between the Shiv Sena and the Congress in 2019, Deora acknowledged the unique opportunities and challenges that came with it. This alliance, part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), defied expectations, uniting two parties often seen as ideological rivals.

The former Lok Sabha member from south Mumbai, in the interview, highlighted the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and the party's successes in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka assembly polls in 2022-23 have boosted the morale of Congress workers and indicated positive prospects for the party in the upcoming elections in five states.

Deora underlined the significance of Mumbai in India's political landscape, drawing parallels between the challenges faced in the city and those at the national level. He stressed that when a political party performs well in Mumbai, it tends to achieve national success.

"Mumbai is, in my opinion, a reflection of politics in India. We must remember that whenever a party does well in Mumbai, it inevitably forms government nationally. We have seen that happening in 1999 (BJP), 2004, 2009 (Congress), 2014 and 2019 (BJP)," Deora told PTI. 

Discussing the changing dynamics of Maharashtra politics, Deora acknowledged the unforeseen alliance between the Shiv Sena, the Congress, and the NCP under the MVA banner. He pointed out that Congress was back in power as part of the MVA government, which presented both opportunities and challenges.

"One never thought the Shiv Sena and the Congress would come together (in 2019 under Maha Vikas Aghadi or MVA banner along with NCP). This (alliance) brought certain opportunities and also certain challenges for Congress. The opportunity was the Congress was back in power (from November 2019 to June 2022 as part of the MVA government) and the challenge was whether the main pole of politics against the BJP would be the Congress," Deora maintained.

Deora expressed hope for the Congress's future in the context of political disruptions in Maharashtra, particularly the shifts of major NCP and Shiv Sena factions towards the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 2022-23. Following these developments, he stated that the Congress would lead the opposition's efforts, ensuring that seat-sharing and alliances are equitable among opposition parties.

"After the setback to the Shiv Sena and the NCP due to splits in their ranks, the largest party in the opposition space is the Congress which has kept its flock intact. It is clear that Congress will now be leading the battle on behalf of the opposition. Negotiations for seat-sharing and alliances (in Maharashtra for Lok Sabha polls) will be done in such a way that everybody will have an equal seat on the table," he said.

He believes that the Congress, being the most robust party in the opposition space, has a bright future. He also touched upon the party's emphasis on conducting a caste survey while maintaining its focus on core economic issues like unemployment and inflation.

The former Mumbai Congress president admitted that the Mumbai Congress had lost touch with local issues, challenges, and the aspirations of Mumbai residents. He highlighted the need to reintegrate local concerns, such as housing for the lower-middle class and slum-dwellers, and improving public transport.

Deora also recognised that every city has unique challenges, citing the emergence of regional parties like the Trinamool Congress in Kolkata and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi as examples of the Congress being sidestepped in large cities. However, he pointed out that Mumbai is the only city where the Congress still has a significant presence, with the potential to connect with the party's voter base.

In conclusion, Deora emphasized that the Congress's growth and success depend on addressing local issues and connecting with the people. He recognized that political disruptions, including the realignment of political ideologies, have introduced substantial changes in recent years. As he observed, Mumbai's political landscape has evolved beyond considerations of religion, caste, and language, focusing on core issues like unemployment, inflation, housing, and essential amenities.

Deora closed by noting that the political landscape in Maharashtra had undergone significant changes since 2019, making the outcome of future elections uncertain. However, he expressed optimism about the Congress's prospects, provided it connects with the people and addresses their local concerns. Regarding potential seat-sharing arrangements between the Congress and the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, Deora highlighted the cordial relationship between the two parties, members of the opposition INDIA bloc. He suggested that there is a keen interest on both sides to collaborate effectively, emphasising the need for give-and-take in the negotiations.

"Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders and workers are keen to work together. There will be give and take, someone will have to swallow pride. But there is keenness and interest on both sides (to work together)," said the Congress leader.

With PTI inputs

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