The last day of the last session of 12th Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra today saw a banter between Home Minister R R Patil and Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse. The state would go to elections in September-October this year.
Patil told the Sena-BJP members that their self-confidence had shot up due to the Lok Sabha results, but Assembly polls would be different. "Don't daydream, because Lok Sabha results and the subsequent Assembly election results are always different. The parties which get more MPs don't get similar numbers in the Assembly," he said.
In 1977, Patil reminded, despite a good showing in the Lok Sabha polls the non-Congress parties could not win the subsequent Assembly elections. Similarly, in 1999, though the Sena-BJP won 28 seats in the Lok Sabha polls, it was the Congress and NCP which formed the government in the state.
People of Maharashtra gave the Sena-BJP one chance (in 1995) and subsequently, in the last 15 years, did not allow them to come anywhere near the power, the NCP leader said. "You can ask anyone whether the government was weak or the opposition was weak. Both political and non-political people are unanimous that the state had a weak opposition all these years," Patil said.
Referring to MNS chief Raj Thackeray's decision to contest the Assembly elections this time and be his party's Chief Ministerial candidate, Patil said, "If Congress-NCP could acquire even five per cent of MNS's confidence, we will return to power. MNS lost all the Lok Sabha seats it contested. "We were worried what will happen to us in the Assembly elections following the poor showing in the Lok Sabha polls. We should take inspiration from the MNS." Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse (BJP) taunted the Home Minister saying that despite the state cabinet having three ministers from Sangli district, including Patil himself, BJP wrested the Sangli Lok Sabha seat, with a substantial lead in Patil's own Assembly constituency. "Naturally, you are frustrated," he said.
Patil also told the Shiv Sena members that earlier BJP candidates won because of Sena's clout, but now it was other way round. "In 1994-95, (when Congress lost the power in Maharashtra) the opposition levelled baseless allegations. But now we will not make the mistake of keeping quiet or ignoring such charges. We will respond adequately," Patil said.