Cong, Sena (UBT) and NCP (SP) to jointly contest Maharashtra polls: Pawar

NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said his party, Congress, and the Shiv Sena (UBT) led by Uddhav Thackeray will jointly contest the Maharashtra assembly polls, due in October this year.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray
NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray

Pune | NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said his party, Congress, and the Shiv Sena (UBT) led by Uddhav Thackeray will jointly contest the Maharashtra assembly polls, due in October this year.

Addressing a news conference here, Pawar also said it is the moral responsibility of the major opposition parties in Maharashtra to protect in the state assembly polls the interests of smaller allies, which were part of the coalition in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The NCP (SP), Congress and the Shiv Sena (UBT) are constituents of the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), which was in power in the state from November 2019 till June 2022 before the collapse of the Thackeray-led government.

Pawar said the opposition will keep a collective face before the people of Maharashtra.

There is need for a change in the state and it is the moral responsibility of the opposition coalition to discharge it, Pawar said.

"As Arjuna's target (in the epic Mahabharata) was an eye (of a fish), our eyes are all set on the elections in Maharashtra. The Congress, NCP (SP) and Uddhav Thackeray's Sena (UBT) will jointly contest the Vidhan Sabha polls," he said.

The former Maharashtra chief minister said talks on seat-sharing in the state have not begun, but will commence soon.

The people gave a good response to the NCP (SP), Shiv Sena (UBT) and Congress in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, he noted.

"But like these three parties, the Left parties, Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) were also a part of the coalition but we could not give them seats in the Lok Sabha. It is our moral responsibility to protect the interests of these parties," he said.

"So the efforts will be to go ahead with them (in the state assembly polls)," Pawar added.

Asked about the state budget presented on Friday by the Eknath Shinde government, the NCP (SP) chief said, "What happens if you go with an empty pocket in a market? It's a matter of a few days, reality will be seen soon."

A monthly allowance of Rs 1,500 to women in the 21 to 60 age group, three free LPG cylinders a year for households, farmer-friendly steps and a stipend of Rs 10,000 per month to youths for skill training were highlights of the Maharashtra government's budget for 2024-25 presented on Friday, four months ahead of the state polls.

Asked if he will participate in the Wari (pilgrimage) 'palkhi' procession which began here on Friday, Pawar said, "The palkhi travels to Pandharpur from my village in Baramati (in Pune district). I will welcome the Wari procession in Baramati."

The 'palkhis' (palanquins) carrying the footprints of revered saints Tukaram and Dnyaneshwar Maharaj set out from Pune's Dehu and Alandi, respectively, to Pandharpur in Solapur district over the last two days.

They will reach Lord Vitthal's temple in Pandharpur on the occasion of Ashadhi Ekadashi on July 17.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday said the state government will send a proposal to United Nations agency UNESCO for world heritage nomination for the annual Pandharpur 'wari' which has a tradition of 1,000 years.

He said the government will also set up a separate corporation to provide facilities to devotees of Lord Vitthal (called warkaris), who undertake the annual pilgrimage from Alandi and Dehu in Pune district to the Vitthal-Rukmini temple in Pandharpur.

The Deputy CM also said the government has decided to provide a sum of Rs 20,000 per 'dindi' (group of devotees) of the pilgrimage from this year. An allocation of Rs 36.71 crore has been made for this in the budget.

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