Congress moots grand alliance in Maharashtra

Congress moots grand alliance in Maharashtra

Ashok Chavan

In a significant political move, the Congress on Saturday mooted the idea of a grand alliance in Maharashtra.

“We are ready for a ‘maha aghadi’ (grand alliance) of like-minded parties to take on the BJP,” Ashok Chavan, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president and former chief minister, said after a meeting of senior leaders to take stock of the state's political situation ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

During the visit of Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, Chavan will apprise him of the collective opinion of the senior leaders and office-bearers of divisional and district level.

Chavan's statement comes on the eve of foundation day of the Sharad Pawar-led NCP in Pune on Sunday.

Besides, it comes just a few days after BJP president Amit Shah met Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray to discuss pre-poll alliance.

It may be recalled that Uddhav had announced earlier that his party would go alone in all future polls despite being an ally of the BJP at the Centre and in Maharashtra.

The state leadership of the Congress and NCP has sat down several times and agreed in principle to have an alliance.

From 1999 to 2014, the Congress and the NCP ran the Democratic Front government in Maharashtra. However, it broke off before the 2014 Assembly polls on the issue of seat-sharing.

Speaking further on the issue of the grand alliance, Chavan said, “Now all depends on how the other parties respond. At our meeting, we discussed strongholds of CPM, Samajwadi Party, BSP, RPI and how they can be accomodated in the alliance."

He also said the call on alliance depends on the central leadership of the Congress.

When asked if parties like Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena and Raj Thackeray's MNS will be accomodated in the alliance, Chavan said his party had ideological differences with them.

"There is no question of having an allliance with them," he said.

Chavan, however, said the Congress will welcome the Hitendra Thakur-led Bahujan Vikas Agadhi (BVA) into the alliance if the party wishes.

"The BVA was our ally when we were in power. But then it moved closer to the BJP," he said.