"Race Starts Now": After Lok Sabha Success, Maharashtra Congress Sets Sights On Assembly Polls

The Congress won 13 of Maharashtra's 48 Lok Sabha seats, emerging as the single-largest party in the state.

'Race Starts Now': After Lok Sabha Success, Maharashtra Congress Sets Sights On Assembly Polls

The winning MPs were felicitated by the Congress.


Three days after it stunned the BJP and the breakaway factions of the Shiv Sena and the NCP by emerging as the single largest party in Maharashtra in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has set its sights on the next target - the Assembly polls scheduled to be held around October.

"Your real race starts now. Keep raising important questions in Parliament and voice the worries of the people," Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole said at an event to felicitate the party's 13 new MPs from the state.

"We have important elections lined up in the future: zila parishad, gram panchayat, and the state assembly elections. Now it is time to work for those who worked to get you in power," he added.

Apart from the MPs and Lok Sabha candidates, the event was attended by Ramesh Chennithala, the Congress general secretary in charge of Maharashtra, senior party leaders like Prithviraj Chavan, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Vijay Wadettiwar, Mukul Wasnik and Rajani Patil. Another key person in attendance was Congress rebel Vishal Patil, who had won the Sangli Lok Sabha seat as an Independent and has extended his support to the party.

Echoing Mr Patole's statements, Mr Chennithala said the party will fight the Assembly polls strongly. "We consulted people from the district level to select our candidate for the general elections; we will be following the same drill later this year in the state elections too," he emphasised.

Pointing out that the party had sought time with the governor but did not get it, Mr Patole said the state is facing several problems.

"Seventy-five per cent of Maharashtra is under the shadow of a severe drought. Adding to that, the water tank mafia, unemployment, and farmers' suicides are major stressors for people in the state," he said.

Focus On Seat-Sharing

Another issue discussed by the leaders was the number of constituencies given to the Congress during the seat-sharing talks with the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena and the Sharad Pawar faction of the NCP. While the Congress fought 17 seats and won 13, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) won nine out of 21 and the NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) got eight out of 10.

"If we had been allotted more seats in the seat-sharing formula, it would have become tougher for Narendra Modi to form the government in Delhi," Mr Patole said.

Prithviraj Chavan, a former Maharashtra chief minister, said the debate on which party is the strongest in the state should be put to rest after the Lok Sabha polls. Mr Chennithala also said, "People of Maharashtra love Congress and want the party to go ahead."