Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan on Saturday proposed a "Maha Aghadi" (grand alliance) of all like-minded parties to challenge the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 parliamentary and state assembly elections.
After a meeting of senior party leaders to review the political situation, and the feedback of district, division, and state leaders, the party was now ready to go for a "grand alliance" in the state, he said.
"We want to ensure that by having such an alliance, the anti-BJP votes are not divided. We shall apprise Congress President Rahul Gandhi of this decision when we discuss the matter with him here next week," Chavan said.
He pointed out that in the recent Palghar Lok Sabha bypolls, in the five-cornered contest, the BJP got the advantage and won the seat due to the division of secular votes.
Chavan said it would be now up to the other parties in the state, like the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Republican Party of India factions and the Communist Party of India (M), besides the Nationalist Congress Party to respond positively in the matter.
Though there was no immediate proposal of a seat-sharing formula, he indicated it could be worked out after the Congress top brass takes a final decision in the matter.
However, to a query whether the ruling ally Shiv Sena, which is bitterly critical of the BJP, and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena would be a part of the grand alliance, Chavan said owing to the ideological differences, an alliance with them was "out of question".
Chavan also demanded that the Centre and state government make official statements regarding the alleged Maoist threats to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
"These are a cause of serious concern. The government must clarify it immediately," Chavan urged.
Chavan said the Congress would welcome the Bahujan Vikas Agadhi (BVA) into the alliance if the party wishes. "The BVA was our ally when we were in power...but then it moved closer to the BJP," he said.
Senior party leaders Harshvardhan Patil, Balasaheb Thorat, Hussain Dalwai, Manikrao Thakre, Manikrao Jagtap, Vijay Waddetiwar, among others, were present during the meeting.