Mumbai: The rains may have played spoilsport as the Congress launched its assembly polls campaign in Maharashtra but the party has cleverly touched upon an issue on which the BJP and the Shiv Sena have opposite views.
The party chose Hutatma Chowk as the location to launch its campaign. Hutatma Chowk is a memorial for the martyrs of the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, which was started for the creation of Maharashtra. Any form of division of the state would be seen as the opposite of what the Samyukta Maharshtra movement wanted to achieve.
While the BJP is seen to be sympathetic to the demand for a separate state of Vidarbha (which is to be carved out of the current state of Maharashtra) and has supported the idea, the Shiv Sena it's ally for decades is absolutely opposed to the idea. Sena Supremo Bal Thackeray had openly spoken against it.
But with the BJP now trying to assert its position as a result of its performance in the Lok Sabha elections, this issue may well become another divisive point between the party and its oldest ally.
And that is probably one of the reasons the Congress chose to focus on this issue. Narayan Rane, Campaign Committee Chairman of the Congress party said, "Some people are dividing Maharashtra but we stand for a united Maharashtra and that is why we launched our campaign from here."
While the BJP is said to have made gains from its stand in the Vidarbha region, the Congress now wants to use this as an issue to tackle the BJP in other parts of the state.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan attacked the BJP by saying, "We should aim for a hat-trick in these state elections. Where is the 'achche din'? It's 100 days but they have had no success."
He ridiculed the BJP by saying, "I just saw an SMS saying the BJP will start blood on call policy. We started in January 2014. You are welcome to replicate it at the Centre but the credit for this policy is ours."
He also hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre by saying, "They spend government funds...they promote one person and do PR for him. I am worried about Centre-State relations which the Congress has maintained and respected. We have followed protocol. But at an event they tried to embarrass the Maharashtra chief minister by booing him. This is an insult for the people of Maharashtra. The people will not forgive this. Elections are near and they are creating difficulties for the Maharashtra government."