Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) leader and MLC Jayant Patil is one of the prime constituents of the third front in Maharashtra. Patil has given the jitters to the Shiv Sena by not backing its candidates Srirang Barne (Maval) and Anant Gite (Raigad) unlike in 2009 when the Sena nominees sailed through in the constituencies which cover Pune and Raigad districts. The PWP, which has a committed vote-base in Raigad, parts of Solapur district like Sangola and Marathwada, accounts for four legislators in the state assembly. Patil spoke to dna's Dhaval Kulkarni.
What prompted the moves for a third front?
The development of Maharashtra has not happened in an equitable manner. The Left parties plunged into the Samyukta Maharashtra movement and split their blood. However, the assurance to regions like Vidarbha and Marathwada that no injustice will be meted out to them in the development process has not been fulfilled. Maharashtra also has a debt burden of Rs3 lakh crore and while the state is reeling under debt, the rulers have made money and their properties have soared by thousands of crores. Only a few families control politics. We wish to change this.
However, the PWP had supported the Shiv Sena in 2009. What prompted this change of heart now?
Last time, we had joined hands not just with the Shiv Sena but against all those against the Maha Mumbai SEZ like NGOs and other parties. If we had fought separately, the fight against the MMSEZ would have been impacted and the Congress would have won. This would have hurt the fortunes of the farmers. So, we supported the Shiv Sena. However, now our objective has been fulfilled as we have compelled the government to stop the land acquisition process.
Your critics allege that the decision to field candidates in Raigad may eventually help NCP candidate Sunil Tatkare.
Laxman Jagtap (the candidate from Maval) was elected as an independent MLA, while Ramesh Kadam (Raigad) quit the NCP a year ago due to his differences with party state chief Bhaskar Jadhav. We have our committed votes in these constituencies. Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Abdul Rehman Antulay is angry at his party and the Muslims are miffed at his being sidelined and will help the PWP. The MNS too will support us, enabling our victory. In 2009, the votes received by the Congress were due to Antulay's presence. At an all-India level, the votes for the Congress will reduce by 15%, which will be reflected here too. The people are upset at Tatkare due to allegations about his unaccounted properties.
What will be the contours of the third front in Maharashtra?
We plan to rope in the two Communist parties, the Janata Dal (Secular), Jana Surajya Shakti and a faction of the RPI (Khobragade). We have entered into seat adjustments with the MNS. We may have differences with the MNS. However, the MNS is not a pro-Hindutva party but is pro-Maharashtra like the Left. The MNS has said they will support Narendra Modi as the PM if he falls short of support in Parliament.
However, the third front has proved to be a non-starter in Maharashtra politics so far. Will these polls be different?
We must give more opportunities to the youth, something which we have been doing in our party. We must keep in mind that the conditions which prevailed 20 years ago have changed and work accordingly.