As strain builds within the Maharashtra opposition alliance over a meeting between Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar, the veteran politician has trashed claims that he has been offered a Union Minister post in exchange of deserting the INDIA bloc and tying up with the BJP.
The meeting took place at a Pune businessman’s residence on Saturday, over a month after Ajit Pawar and eight other NCP leaders joined the Eknath Shinde-led government backed by the BJP. Since then, both factions are in tussle to control the NCP.
The meeting sparked speculation that Ajit Pawar may be trying to convince Sharad Pawar, a key face of opposition’s INDIA bloc, to shift his allegiance. Mr Pawar later said some “well-wishers” were trying to convince him to tie up with the BJP, but added that he had no such plan.
Asked about Mr Chavan’s remark, Mr Pawar said today, “I have no idea what the former CM said. There was no such discussion. I am not denying that meeting happened, but as the head of the family, I speak to all family members. These are just rumours. There’s no reality in any of these things being said.”
“I am the seniormost person in the party, who will give me an offer,” the veteran asked.
Earlier too, Mr Pawar had stressed that Ajit Pawar is his nephew and it is natural for them to meet.
The meeting, meanwhile, has led to unease within the alliance between the Congress, NCP and the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray). Sanjay Raut, MP and aide of Uddhav Thackeray, has said Mr Pawar is the “Bhishma Pitamaha” of Maharashtra politics and he “should not do anything that creates doubt in the minds of people”.
The tension within the alliance is unwelcome especially in the run-up to the next meeting of INDIA bloc in Mumbai. Mr Pawar today confirmed that the meeting will take place on August 31 and a sabha will be held the next day.
Targeting the BJP, he accused it of trying to divide the people.
“The central government has issued a new circular regarding CBSE where they have said that 14th August will be remembered as partition horrors remembrance day. While the society is trying to get out of the bitterness we faced during that time, this government has issued this circular. It is clear that it wants to spread bitterness among masses and divide the society,” he said.
The veteran politician also accused the BJP of trying to destabilise elected governments. “Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are examples where they destabilised the government,” he said.
On the Manipur situation, Mr Pawar said, “It’s been over 99 days. The PM spoke about Manipur for three minutes outside Parliament and for just five minutes during his speech against non-confidence motion.”
“I hoped that PM would speak about this in 15th August speech, but it seems like PM is following into the footsteps of Devendra Fadnavis and said ‘Mi Punha Yein’ (I will come back). He doesn’t care about the northeast but cares about how he will come back,” he said.
BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Fadnavis’ “Mi Punha Yein” remark ahead of the 2019 Maharashtra polls had gone viral after the Shiv Sena, then led by Uddhav Thackeray, parted ways with the BJP and joined the NCP and Congress to form the government. Mr Fadnavis was then mocked by trolls for being overconfident. He finally responded when Uddhav Thackeray government was toppled by the Eknath Shinde-led rebellion, saying his revenge is to forgive those who trolled him.