In a bid to prepare for the 2024 Lok Sabha election, Congress on Tuesday held a meeting with Maharashtra leaders about Parliamentary election preparation, starting with Maharashtra.
After the four hour long meeting which came in the wake of split in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Venugopal told media: “Today, we had a very fruitful four-hours discussion about the Parliamentary preparation of Maharashtra state. Today onwards, we have started the Parliamentary election preparation. We started with Maharashtra.”
The Congress Rajya Sabha MP said that Kharge appealed to the leaders of Maharashtra that every state leader should stand unitedly and make Congress stronger in the state.
Venugopal said: “Rahul Gandhi also shared his experience of ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ through Maharashtra. ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in Maharashtra was one of the best in all over the country. He told and expressed confidence that the Congress is very strong enough in Maharashtra.”
“He (Rahul Gandhi) appealed to the leaders of Maharashtra that you have to make deep root effect in rural and urban Maharashtra to bring success to the party in a bigger way,” he said.
The Congress leader said that the party decided that all senior leaders should take responsibility of the parliamentary constituencies.
“Therefore, we are giving seniors leaders to have a responsibility on each and every Parliamentary constituency of Maharashtra. And in September, we will do a massive Padyatra under the leadership of our one big leader in each district of Maharashtra. And from November-December there will be abus yatra across the stage with all leaders together,” he said, sharing the plans of the party.
He said that in Maharashtra, Congress will have a massive election preparation process as Rahul Gandhi and Kharge have given direction to come in the active mode to activate campaign in the state from Wednesday itself.
To a question, if the Congress feels that it will make an impact in Lok Sabha elections in the state, which has 48 lok sabha seats, Venugopal said: “We are very confident that the way BJP is trying to demolish democracy in Maharashtra will have a negative effect for BJP. This is a general impression in Maharashtra. We are going to sweep. We are going to fight in alliance with the ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ alliance. We will fight together certainly. BJP’s politics of dividing the political parties by using the ED and money will pay bigger price in the coming election.”
He asserted that people are ready to defeat the BJP.
“The Congress is now starting its Parliament election campaign,” he said.
On being asked that Congress now is the largest opposition party in the state assembly and will it ask for LoP post, Venugopal said that it doesn’t matter.
“That will be discussed later. We will discuss with our alliance partners after that we will take a call,” he said.
The meeting with the Maharashtra Congress leaders was chaired by party president Mlikarjun Kharge and also attended by Rahul Gandhi.
Congress General Secretary (Organisation) K.C. Venugopal, Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole, state in-charge H K Patil, senior party leaders Sushilkumar Shinde, Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan were also present in the meeting.
Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole said in Maharashtra, the party has a big organisation and no one will leave it either today or in future.
“And whenever elections are held in the state, Congress will emerge as the biggest party because roots of the party are spread all over the state and people have accepted this fact today and it’s result will visible,” Patole said.
The Maharashtra Congress chief to a question if the party will contest alone or in alliance interests said: “We have preparing on all the 48 seats in the state. If there will be any alliance then they will gain strength from us. In Maharashtra, large sections believe in the Congress party and the state also has the follower of Ambedkar. Whoever will be with us will benefit in election.”
Following the split in Shiv Sena last year and NCP last month, the Congress has now emerged as the largest opposition party in Maharashtra and has staked claim to the post of Leader of Opposition in the state assembly.
The meeting at the party headquarters here came after a faction of the NCP led by Ajit Pawar switched over to join hands with the BJP-Eknath Shinde government in the state.
The Ajit Pawar-led camp has also approached the Election Commission to stake the claim of the party symbol and the party.