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Raut calls BRS B-team of BJP; KCR says they are a team of farmers, minorities and Dalits

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PANDHARPUR, June 27 (PTI): Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s visit to Maharashtra’s pilgrimage town of Pandharpur on Tuesday drew a sharp reaction from Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut, who called the former’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) a B-team of the BJP.

Addressing a rally in Sarkoli village, some 20 km from Pandharpur, Rao countered the charge asserting that they are a team of farmers, marginalised communities, minorities and Dalits and wondered why there is a “hue and cry” over his party’s efforts to expand its base in the neighbouring state.

Rao, also popular as KCR, and his cabinet colleagues arrived in Pandharpur on Monday in a motorcade with 600 vehicles. He offered prayers at the Vitthal Rukmini temple in the town on Tuesday, ahead of Ashadhi Ekadashi on June 29.

Talking to reporters here, Raut said BRS has no other intention in Maharashtra other than trying to hurt the prospects of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, comprising the Shiv Sena (UBT), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, and divide votes.

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“He has never visited Pandharpur in the last eight-nine years as the chief minister or when he was a minister in Andhra Pradesh and a minister at the Centre,” Raut said.

To whom KCR is trying to show the strength, Raut asked.

“KCR is a personal friend, but he has to decide against whom we are fighting,” Raut said, adding that there will be no impact of BRS on Maharashtra politics and the move will only hurt KCR in Telangana.

About his Pandharpur visit, Rao said when they planned to offer prayers at the temple, they were advised to avoid doing politics.

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“I refrained from discussing politics in Pandharpur. However, here I will talk about it. I fail to understand why there is such a hue and cry among the parties in Maharashtra about us. Why do they fear us, as no party is leaving any opportunity to criticise us, he asked.

Rao slammed what he called the tendency to label BRS as a B-team of other parties.

“Congress calls us the B-team of BJP, while BJP calls us the A-team of Congress. We are not anyone’s team. We are a team of farmers, marginalised communities, minorities, and Dalits,” he asserted.

He also emphasised that BRS is not just a regional party tied to Telangana, but is a national party with a mission to bring about a change in India.

Rao said that every major party in Maharashtra has had the opportunity to govern the state.

“The Congress ruled (Maharashtra) for 50 years. You gave chances to NCP, BJP, and Shiv Sena. If they genuinely wanted to work for the state’s welfare, at least one of them could have done so,” he said.

The BRS chief said that the schemes successfully rolled out in Telangana can be easily implemented in Maharashtra. He questioned why Maharashtra couldn’t replicate the farmer-centric welfare programmes implemented by Telangana.

“If Telangana can implement such schemes for the welfare of farmers, why can’t Maharashtra,” he asked.

Rao said claims are being made that whatever is being shown in Telangana is a ‘bhul bhulaiya’ (maze) and if Maharashtra implements their schemes, the state will turn bankrupt (‘diwala’).

“I would like to assert here that yes, there is be diwala and it will be of political leaders. But there will be Diwali (prosperity) for the farmers,” he said.

At Rao’s event in Sarkoli village, NCP leader Bhagirath Bhelke joined BRS. He is the son of the late Bharat Bhelke, a former NCP legislator from the Pandharpur Assembly seat.

In the bypoll that took place in 2021 after his father’s death, the NCP had fielded Bhagirath as its candidate but the seat was won by BJP’s Samadhan Autade.

Rao last month announced a month-long programme to expand BRS’ network in over 45,000 villages in urban civic bodies in Maharashtra.



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