Mumbai, Feb 20: Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan, during an interview with India.com, lashed out at the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), calling the pro-Muslim outfit an ‘agent’ of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Chavan claimed that the Owaisi brothers are being strategically used by BJP to split the votes of minority community. He further added that the AIMIM will play the role of spoiler in upcoming BMC elections.

Apart from targeting the AIMIM, Chavan also gave his opinion on the bitter feud between Shiv Sena and BJP. The former chief minister accused Sena and BJP of lowering the political discourse in Maharashtra, by launching personal attacks at an unprecedented level. Chavan also dared Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray to break away from the alliance, rather than issuing fake threats to BJP.

Excerpts from the interview:

After 25 years of alliance, Shiv Sena and BJP are locked in a bitter feud. Both the parties have made extreme personal attacks at each other. How does Congress react to that?

It is highly unfortunate that the political discourse has gone down to such level. The kinds of personal attacks being made by them at each other is disappointing. Elections in Maharashtra have never gone down to such a low level. Congress has never desired attacks on personal level. When we condemn our opponents, we talk about the respective parties and their faulty principles. We should criticise their policies, the lack of development work undertaken by government, etc. Attacks on personal level is a sign of unhealthy democracy.

Somebody attacked the Chief Minister’s wife as well. This is absolutely unfortunate. Congress will never support such things. Throughout the history of Congress, we have never stooped so low. Congress has maintained the checks and balances in politics. Even being in government, never have we practiced the politics of revenge and vendetta.

For 25 years, these two parties have never talked about transparency. Now they both find each other as the most corrupt. If Uddhav Thackeray feels that BJP is insulting them, if he feels that pride of Marathi Manoos has been compromised, then I dare him to break away from the alliance.

AIMIM has once again entered into the poll fray. They are campaigning aggressively. Do you think they would win the support of Muslim electorate?

People have realised that MIM is being used by BJP to split the votes of minority. It is the strategy of BJP to support MIM in Maharashtra. It is very evident now. They won some support of Muslims earlier, but now people have realised that they are working in tandem with BJP.

But in 2014 assembly elections, AIMIM not only bagged Byculla, but emerged second in various seats of Mumbai. Can they once again spoil the prospects of Congress and NCP?

They are bound to play the spoiler role in upcoming elections. But people have realised that supporting AIMIM is indirectly supporting the BJP. One thing is clear – MIM will not emerge as a winner in the elections, but it will play the spoiler for Congress. And that is why the BJP has been strategically using them.

What is the biggest poll plank of Congress to appeal the ‘aam aadmi’ of Mumbai?

Mumbai is a good city, a growing city. Everyone wants to come to Mumbai. The city should be able to accommodate the people. For accommodation, we need more housing, more infrastructure. Mumbai also needs transport facility and good living conditions. So, it is a culmination of all these aspects which could make Mumbai a better city to live.

The priority of Congress is planned development, all round development, solving the housing issue of common man, solving the traffic woes. During our government, we introduced the monorail and metro rail. Such steps need to be taken forward.

Due to infighting within the state unit of Congress, the morale of party workers gets affected. What steps will the party take, in view of 2019, to boost the morale of Congress workers at grassroot level?

Congress has a large network in the entire state. We have large number of workers. They are good people. We have to live up to their expectations. We have to maintain their confidence. But, we also need to instill new blood.There have been problem in several districts, but we have to sort it out. It is not a public relations exercise, but a human resource exercise. We have to do it. Ultimately, it is the workers who matter. Who makes us win the elections? It is the workers.

In my district (Nanded), I have been garnering the support of workers and instilling confidence in them since past 20 years. The party needs to understand the psychology of workers who are working for it. If this is not happening, then issues are bound to erupt. Over the next two years, I see the time when we should rejuvenate our workers and remove the obstacles which are there.