Raj Thackeray recently called for a Modi-mukt Bharat. Is the Congress open to having an understanding with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS)?
There is some misunderstanding, or a deliberate attempt is being made to link the Congress with the MNS. Modi-mukt Bharat is a common stance of the opposition. But, there are a lot of issues on which we disagree, especially the MNS stand on north Indians, on hawkers and the use of violence. This is something which we simply cannot tolerate. There is no question of any kind of understanding with the MNS.
Congress is soft on the Shiv Sena. Is there a secret tactical understanding?
There is nothing secret. There is no understanding with the Shiv Sena. They are very cleverly trying to play the role of the opposition. But, they are very much part of the government. Their ministers agree with the decisions taken by the CM. The Sena is only building pressure on the CM, and the BJP, to increase its share of the cake. That is all. Even in the recent no confidence motion against the speaker, they went with the BJP ultimately. So, we do not expect anything from the Sena. There is no question of an alliance with the Sena, even in the future.
Are you hopeful of an alliance with the NCP?
Yes, very much. Preliminary meetings have taken place. I have led the government where the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was an ally. The alliance has to be a win-win situation. It cannot be one-sided. Seat-sharing adjustment has to be done carefully. I am trying to work it out in such a way that the Congress does not lose out on important seats. But, overall, I do not see a problem.
Nationally, who can be the face of the opposition to take on Prime Minister Modi?
Congress president Rahul Gandhi is that face. He is young, and has gained experience in politics. He represents the younger generation. In the present situation, he is a very good alternative to Modi, and, as a Congressman I feel he is the best choice for prime minister.
— Dnyanesh Jathar