Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut on Saturday said the victory of the Maha Vikas Aghadi in the Kasba Peth by-poll was just a glimpse and claimed the MVA can win over 200 assembly and 40 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra next year if the allies fight unitedly. Raut’s party apart, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and Congress are partners in the MVA. Assembly polls in Maharashtra and general elections are due next year. The Rajya Sabha MP was speaking in Pune, where he met newly elected Congress MLA Ravindra Dhangekar who defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Hemant Rasane in Kasba Peth, a BJP stronghold for nearly three decades.
“The smart voters of Kasba Peth have dealt a blow to the ruling party. They tried to buy voters here but failed to do so. ‘Kasba jhanki hai, Maharashtra baki hai’ (Kasba is just a glimpse, Maharashtra is still left),” Raut told reporters. MVA's victory an indicator of the state’s political future, he said. Kasba Peth and Chinchwad in Pune district voted on February 26 in by-polls necessitated due to the death of BJP MLAs Mukta Tilak and Laxman Jagtap, respectively. The Kasba Peth seat was won by the Congress, while BJP candidate Ashwini Jagtap, the wife of late MLA Laxman Jagtap, won from Chinchwad by defeating Vitthal alias Nana Kate of the NCP.
However, Raut declined to give credit to the BJP for victory in Chinchwad.“I refuse to believe that the Chinchwad by-poll victory is that of the BJP. For several years, there was a ‘Jagtap pattern’ in the constituency and now also it has worked,” he said. The Shiv Sena (UBT) leader said the MVA committed a few strategic mistakes in candidate selection. “We failed to persuade the independent Rahul Kalate to withdraw. Otherwise, the NCP nominee would have won,” he said. For the upcoming local body elections, he said, alliances will be decided at the local level. But top MVA leaders are focussing on assembly and Lok Sabha polls, he said, adding that the partners can win over 200 assemblies and 40 Lok Sabha seats next year if they fight together.
Asked about his “chor-mandal” remark, which has sparked an uproar in the ongoing budget session in the state legislature, Raut said, “I respect the legislature. My statement was related to a particular group and everyone knows it. I am not the one who will call the entire legislature a body of thieves. I am a member of Parliament and understand the law and Constitution.”