Decided to Discuss Alliance with Sonia Gandhi, Says MNS Chief Raj Thackeray

New Delhi: During his meeting with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Monday, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackery had proposed a coalition of his outfit with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party.

While confirming the development to the MNS chief said his courtesy call to Sonia Gandhi was made with the upcoming Maharashtra assembly elections in mind.

Thackeray said he had first proposed the alliance to Congress leaders in the state before taking it up with the senior party leader. “Local leaders, like Ashok Chavan, pointed towards Delhi whenever talks on alliance were held. So I decided to talk to Mrs Gandhi myself,” he said, while refusing to delve further into the future of the alliance.

Thackeray also raised the issue of electronic voting machines (EVMs) during his meet with the former Congress president. “I told her that she should spearhead a nationwide movement against EVMs and get the country back to ballot boxes,” he told reporters.

Further talking about the alleged discrepancies in EVMs, he said, “Maine unhe kaha ki agar match hi fixed hai to khelne ka kya fayda (I told her (Sonia) if the match is fixed, there’s no point of playing it.)”

Stating that he had even proposed a “boycott” of elections if they were held through EVMs, Thackeray said that he had written letters to all major political parties urging them to start a movement against EVMs, “but nobody paid heed to my suggestions then (before general elections).”

“There are many reasons to doubt the EVMs. There were six polling booths in Raju Shetty’s constituency where he did not poll a single vote. But from the same region, he managed to raise election funds worth Rs 16 lakh. How could it be that people are ready to share money but not ready to give votes?” he added.

On Monday, Thackeray met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and demanded that the Assembly polls in Maharashtra, due later this year, be conducted through paper ballots instead of EVMs.

“There are doubts in the minds of voters that the votes they cast do not go to their chosen candidates. In such a scenario, the EC should switch back to paper ballots and conduct the Maharashtra polls through it. We strongly feel that the EVMs can be tampered with,” said Thackeray.

The MNS chief had led an aggressive campaign in the state against Prime Minister Modi during the recent Lok Sabha. The MNS did not contest the Lok Sabha polls, but had fielded candidates in the 2009 and 2014 assembly polls in which its tally came down drastically from 13 to one.

The fortunes of Congress-NCP combine in Maharashtra have also seen a downward graph in the last few years. The grand old party could manage to grab only one of the 48 LS seats, while Sharad Pawar’s NCP managed to win only four.