Nagpur/Mumbai: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi sounded the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) poll bugle, the two main opposition parties — the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — launched their pre-election campaigns from the eastern and western corners of Maharashtra on Thursday.
The Congress’ top state leadership converged at the historic Deekshabhoomi, the memorial to the main architect of the Indian Constitution B.R. Ambedkar in Nagpur, eastern Maharashtra and launched the fifth phase of its Jan Sangharsh Yatra.
This included state President Ashok Chavan, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, All India Congress Committee’s Mukul Wasnik and Ashish Dua, former Union Minister Vilas Muttemwar and others.
Similarly, the NCP’s state top brass mounted atop the historic Raigad Fort, the capital of the erstwhile Maratha Empire founded by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the 17th century and offered floral tributes to the Maratha warrior king’s statue there, in coastal Konkan.
After seeking the blessings at the Samadhi of Jeejamata, the NCP launched its five-day Parivartan Yatra which will pass through various parts of the state.
They were led by state NCP President Jayant Patil, Leader of Opposition in Council Dhananjay Munde, former deputy chief ministers Ajit Pawar and Chhagan Bhujbal, besides former ministers and others.
After invoking the two biggest icons of Maharashtra, the leaders of both parties launched their pre-poll campaigns by targeting the ruling National Democratic Alliance and the BJP at the Centre and the BJP-Shiv Sena government in the state, for their various acts of omission and commission and dwelt on farmers’ issues, high inflation, growing unemployment and other burning topics to be highlighted during the elections.
Though the pre-poll campaigns started from opposing corners in the state, both the parties are on the verge of finalizing their alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
On Wednesday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and NCP President Sharad Pawar held a meeting in New Delhi, accompanied by senior leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Praful Patel.
Among other things, they are believed to have discussed the poll strategy for the Lok Sabha elections, the grand opposition alliance which will tackle the BJP-led juggernaut and agreeing to the crucial seat-sharing formula in Maharashtra which has 48 seats in the lower house, the second highest in the country after Uttar Pradesh’s 80.