Bombay: The four party combine in Maharashtra is posing a serious threat to the traditional hold of congress in this state. The Bharatiya Janata Party president, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on Sunday called upon the Maharashtra electorate to vote a United opposition to power in the forthcoming assembly elections particularly in view of the Congress(I)’s overwhelming majority at the Centre.

Addressing a large gathering at the inaugural campaign of the four parties Progressive Democratic Front the BJP, Janata, Congress(S) and the Peasants and Workers Party at Shivaji Park here, Mr. Vajpayee said the ruling party could no longer use opposition disunity as a slogan in Maharashtra.

The Congress(s) President, Mr. Sharad Pawar, announced the agreement among the PDF components over Bombay’s 34 assembly seats. BJP candidates will be contesting a maximum of 17 seats, Janata 12 and Congress(S) five.

Mr. Vajpayee said the opposition would not lock itself in the politics of predetermined confrontation, for it did feel committed to the idea of a strong Centre, but a heavily centralized administration did not augur well for the development of Maharashtra’s backward regions and classes.

The BJP leader decried the pace at which India was being rushed to the 21st century. He also questioned what he called the inherent bias in the development programme being followed by the Centre and wondered if the society’s poorer sections were going to be its beneficiaries. He said he was in agreement with the need for modern technology, but added that it was more important to have appropriate technology. He doubted if a balanced development could take place in its absence.

Mr. Pawar, promising a clean, competent and efficient government, referred to the lack of leadership with the Congress (I) ranks in Maharashtra. He said the Chief Minister, Mr. Vasantrao Patil, had openly stated that he was crippled.

Assuring the gathering that he would abolish the Maharashtra Industrial Relations Act, he said that the ruling party’s anti-labor policies have caused nearly one lakh textile workers to suffer. Many important projects, he said, were being shifted out of the state.

Speaking of the hopes the opposition holds for the state’s 56 lakh farmers Mr. Pawar said the last five years had been the most insulting in Maharashtra’s 25 years of existence. He appealed for a return to the earlier traditions that had brought glory to the state.

Article extracted from this publication >> March 1, 1985