MUMBAI: The Congress and the NCP will raise issues like farm crisis, "economic slowdown" and unemployment in the run-up to the assembly elections in Maharashtra, scheduled next month.
Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Saturday said the Congress would take on the saffron parties on these issues as well as on "the attempts to dismantle opposition parties". "The election dates have not come as a surprise. We were in the midst of preparations keeping in mind that the dates will be announced around this time. The process of seat and ticket distribution is going on. There can be some last minute changes. We will take on the ruling party and the government on issues facing the people," Chavan told PTI.
Maharashtra will go for a single-phase elections on October 21. Counting of votes will be taken up on October 24. He said some leaders may have defected from the Congress-NCP camp "but the common people are with us". "We will raise the dictatorial attitude of the ruling party to finish off the Opposition," the former chief minister said. Former minister and senior Congress leader Naseem Khan also welcomed poll schedule.
Meanwhile, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik exuded confidence that there will be a change of guard in the state. "As expected, the Election Commission has declared October 21 as the polling date. We hope the Election Commission and administration will ensure free and fair polls as recommended in the Constitution and mentioned by the Commission," Malik said.
He said the BJP and Shiv Sena benefited in the Lok Sabha polls held in Maharashtra due to division of votes, and added people have realised this now. The BJP and Shiv Sena had won 23 and 18 seats, respectively in Maharashtra, out of the total 48 seats. On the other hand, the NCP and the Congress won only five seats among them.
The opposition parties had accused the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, led by Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh's Prakash Ambedkar and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, of eating into their votes. On the issues his party was planning to highlight, the NCP leader said, "Unemployment is on the rise, the problem of economic slowdown has deepened and the number of farmers' suicides has gone up.
The people are waiting for the change of guard, which is bound to happen". The Congress and the NCP have decided to contest 125 seats each out of the total 288 seats in the polls.