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19 February 1998

Shivraj Patil finds himself on shaky ground in Latur

LATUR, February 18: Former Lok Sabha speaker Shivraj Patil-Chakurkar, who has won the Latur Lok Sabha constituency for five times in a row, is putting up a brave fight against his rival's campaign that he has ignored the local issues.

Contending that a Member of Parliament has to devote himself to national issues and cannot look into local issues, the Congress candidate said, "I cannot as a matter of right ask local authorities to solve local problems of the people."

He said, "If MPs start caring for local issues, then there will be no need for local institutions like Zilla Parishads and municipal bodies".

Reacting to the remarks, BJP nominee Gopalrao Patil, a Rajya Sabha member, lashed out that "Patil-Chakurkar has not solved any of the problems faced by the people here"

Referring to his rival's national level agenda, Gopalrao also accused him of indulging in "nepotism".

Patil-Chakurkar however has claimed that Sonia Gandhi's campaign has boosted his confidence.

Attacking the accusation about hisnon-availability for local matters, Patil-Chakurkar claimed that "only politicians are making a noise about it. People have been accepting me (since 1980) and they are not complaining."

When asked if five years of Speakership from 1991 had restricted his interaction with people from the constituency, he said "people are wise. They appreciate contribution at national level".

About his son Shailesh and five other relatives being allotted LPG agencies, Patil-Chakurkar argued "So what? others have sugar factories, medical colleges. If I am criticised (for obtaining LPG agencies for relatives), I have no comments to make". His BJP rival pointed out that the Congress nominee has located his son's LPG agency in his residential bungalow.

Referring to Gopalrao Patil's candidature, who had polled 2,00,403 votes in 1996 -- 79,372 votes less than the winning candidate -- Patil-Chakurkar said "He is not the real candidate. He is only there to split votes. Let us wait for the results".

Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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