'Lok Sabha polls are contest between secularism, Hindu Rashtra': Ex-judge BG Kolse-Patil on taking electoral plunge
Retired Bombay High Court judge BG Kolse-Patil, who will contest the Lok Sabha election from the Aurangabad constituency, spoke about taking the electoral plunge.
In an interview, BG Kolse-Patil spoke about taking the electoral plunge from Aurangabad.
Kolse-Patil has been declared as the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s candidate for the LS election from Aurangabad.
'I believe this is a unique election – it is a choice between the Constitution and those who do not believe in the Constitution,' he said.
BG Kolse Patil, a retired judge of the Bombay High Court, is a resolute and confident man. He has been declared as the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s candidate for the Lok Sabha election from Aurangabad, and is drawing support from many organisations and citizens' groups. He has been active in public life since his retirement, has been associated with people’s movements, and is known to be a bitter critic of the Sangh Parivar's brand of politics. He had launched the Lokshasan Andolan, which supports grassroots struggles and resists environmental exploitation by large corporate interests. He was also one of the organisers of the Elgaar Parishad held in Pune on 31 December, 2017. In this interview, he spoke about taking the electoral plunge and the events that have been unfolding in the run-up to the election.
Describe some of the factors that went into your taking the electoral plunge.
I have been working for the downtrodden, and have been agitating on various issues. But I have come to the conclusion that unless you are in power, you cannot really help people to the extent that you wish to. I have chosen to fight this election because I believe this is a unique election – it is a choice between the Constitution and those who do not believe in the Constitution. Secondly, it is a choice between secularism and those who propagate a Hindu Rashtra. Further, it is a choice between democracy on one hand and non-democratic practices and dictatorship on the other hand.
You have stated that any party except the BJP and Shiv Sena that puts up a candidate against you will be strengthening the BJP. What has been the response of the Congress and NCP to this?
This was what the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) itself had declared when it put up my candidature. I was announced as the Aurangabad candidate by the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (an alliance of the Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh led by Prakash Ambedkar and All India Majlis-Ittehadul-Muslimeen led by Asaduddin Owaisi) in a suo motu manner. I was in Harvard for a lecture when I heard that they had declared me as their candidate for Aurangabad and appealed to all other parties, including Congress and NCP to back me. They knew I had been working for the downtrodden for many years, and perhaps my work had not been recognized. They also felt that a voice like mine was needed in Parliament today to represent the interests of the downtrodden. So far, the Congress and NCP have not expressed any opposition, nor have they offered any support to my candidature. They are in a bit of a fix. There is also jostling going on between them about seats and numbers.
On what grounds did you choose Aurangabad over Pune as the constituency that you will contest from? What are your thoughts and plans for the constituency?
The choice of seat was at the VBA’s insistence, because they felt that Aurangabad has a much higher number of downtrodden people, and they knew my history with grassroots struggles. In Pune, communal forces have the upper hand. I have had a very long association with Aurangabad. Decades ago, I gave my first speech here at Siddharth Law College. I was part of the executive process of setting up the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court in 1982. I have been in touch with the people and know the conditions there.
Do voters across Maharashtra who are opposed to the BJP see the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi as a viable option?
It is very difficult to assess this at present. The picture is not very clear. It will become clearer in the upcoming weeks. From our side, Prakash Ambedkar, at the biggest public meeting he has ever addressed, had categorically stated in Mumbai that our doors are still open for negotiation with the Congress. It is for them to approach this with the spirit of generosity and sacrifice if they are serious about fighting Modi. If they are able to see and understand this, it will be good for both of our parties, and will be good for the country.
What are your thoughts on the present situation between India and Pakistan?
It is most unfortunate. We salute the courage and sacrifices of our soldiers, and deeply mourn their loss. But certain things are apparent – the Pulwama attack could not have happened without serious security lapses. How could so much RDX be moving in a vehicle in such a sensitive area? How could this be allowed to happen? But the common people see through this. They know now what Modi is like. I cannot speak for the rest of the country, but I can definitely say that in Aurangabad, there will be no Modi wave. People are not about to be swept off in any emotional wave. They will vote with their eyes open.
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