Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray on Saturday sought deferment of the upcoming Assembly polls, due in September-October, to the next year citing the large scale devastation caused by floods in the western region of the state.
Observing that it would take time to restore normalcy in the flood-hit districts, Thackeray has sought the intervention of the Election Commission to postpone the elections.
“I would also write to the poll panel on the issue,” he told reporters.
The Opposition has been accusing the state government of inept handling of the flood situation.
“The situation there (in Western Maharashtra) is unlikely to be brought under control until October given the large scale devastation. The code of conduct will come into force in September and the government will stop the relief work citing the same. So it is better to postpone the polls to the next year,” Thackeray said.
Observing that lakhs of people in Kolhapur and Sangli districts have lost the shelter, the MNS chief has expressed fear of breaking out of an epidemic once the water levels recede. “It will take more time to restore normalcy there,” he said.
He accused the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena of being “ruthless” towards the plight of people and “occupied with politics”.
Thackeray, who has been backing the Congress and the NCP on various issues against the ruling NDA, also accused the government of not providing adequate assistance to flood victims.
The MNS, which has witnessed a huge slide in popularity from once sending 13 MLAs to the Assembly to no representation, has been struggling to stay afloat in the state politics.
Apparently referring to the Statue of Unity in Gujarat, Thackeray alleged while the ruling BJP can spend Rs 3,000 crore on constructing a statue but it cannot extend adequate relief to save the lives of the people in Maharashtra.
“The Army should have been approached earlier to take charge of the largescale rescue works (in Sangli and Kolhapur). But they (the BJP and Shiv Sena) had no time from their ‘yatras’ (campaigns) and politics to think on this line,” he said.
Heavy rains have triggered floods in the rivers flowing in the western Maharashtra region, affecting districts of Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Pune, and Solapur.
Over four lakh people have been evacuated so far from the flood-hit areas, mostly from Kolhapur and Sangli, apart from Satara, Ratnagiri, Sindgudurg, Raigad, Thane, Nashik and Palghar districts.
The death toll due to floods in the districts of Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Pune, and Solapur stood at 29 till Friday.
Though the flood situation in Kolhapur and Sangli districts showed signs of improvement on Saturday as water started to recede, it would take at least two to three days before water could be discharged completely from these districts, according to officials.