Business Standard

Seeking more seats from Congress-NCP, Maharashtra party threatens to go solo


IANS Mumbai
Attempting to secure more seats in Maharashtra from the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, former NDA constituent Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) on Monday threatened to contest alone if not accommodated suitably in the opposition alliance.
The SSS is led by prominent farmers leaders and two-time MP Raju Shetti, who had abruptly quit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) fold over two years ago following differences on various farmers issues, including implementation of the loan waiver scheme and M.S. Swaminathan Commission Report.
Soon after that, he had called on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who later became party President, and has since been critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Though flirting with the Congress-NCP since then, the SSS is not yet officially part of the United Progressive Alliance, and now Shetti has demanded at least three-four seats to join it.
But, as per current indications, he has been assured of only one seat - his stronghold Hathkanangale, from where he is the sitting MP.
Peeved over any concrete commitment, Shetti has virtually served an ultimatum to the Congress-NCP to make their stand clear or he would fight alone.
As a prelude, he has convened a meeting of SSS workers in Madha on February 27, followed by an executive committee meeting in Kolhapur the next day, to gauge the mood and finalise the party strategy.
As per tentative plans, in the eventuality of going independently, the SSS may contest at least nine seats which have a huge rural and farmer base - Hathkanangale, Madha, Sangli, Kolhapur, Latur, Dhule, Shirdi, Buldhana, and Wardha.
Sources in Congress-NCP claim that though the SSS may not bag so many seats independently, its adamant stance could undermine the chances of the Opposition in many constituencies as the vote split would indirectly benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine.

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First Published: Feb 25 2019 | 8:44 PM IST

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