Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar does not see the BJP’s state government falling, especially in view of the Shiv Sena’s posturing. He said that power was like a block of jaggery oozing sweetness, and the Sena and BJP were like ants drawn to that block, sucking as much sweetness as they could from it. Pawar was speaking at a press conference held at the NCP headquarters, to address the drought issue in Maharashtra.
Pawar came down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ignoring the unrest that the country is going through because of the intolerant ways of some factions. File pic
“They will remain in power as long as they continue to extract sweetness. There’s no possibility of mid-term polls either, because the BJP and Sena have been showing some patience towards each other even as they are engaged in a war of words,” Pawar said while chiding the saffron partners, who have taken contradictory stands on issues of governance and cultural affairs, such as the book release of a former Pakistan minister.
The two have even scrapped a tie-up in the Kalyan-Dombivli municipal polls. Pawar was more scathing of the Sena. “Some leaders spoke highly of self-esteem before joining the BJP government. Now I wonder how patient they have become, especially when others speak anything against them. To me, it appears like an arrangement wherein they use strong words against each other, but shy from discarding power (in retaliation),” he said.
Pawar ridiculed the Sena for asking the BJP to quit the government because it had compromised nationalism — in the Sena’s eyes — by allowing Observer Research Foundation head Sudheendra Kulkarni to host an ex-Pakistan minister in Mumbai. Some Sainiks had smeared Kulkarni’s face with black paint as a mark of protest.
“Who joined the BJP government after sitting in opposition? It’s a joke when the Sena says BJP should quit the government. I know for sure that (Devendra) Fadnavis had formed the government last year,” he said, showing a mischievous smile that he displays very sparingly.
The veteran leader said the NCP will not join the BJP government if the Sena walks out. “We supported the BJP’s (minority) government for giving the state some stability. My party will not join the government, because I know for sure this government may not run (smoothly) but it will be there (as the BJP-Sena coalition),” said Pawar.
Pawar came down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ignoring the unrest that the country is going through because of the intolerant ways of some sections of society. “Authors are returning state awards and their action speaks volumes for the current atmosphere in the country. And when we expect tolerance, some people are taking extreme steps and supporting the troublemakers. Since this is pan-India, it is expected of the PM to take control and help states in hard times. Modi did speak about the Dadri incident, but it was too late by then,” said Pawar.
Pawar cited ex-PM late Indira Gandhi’s intervention in atrocities against Dalits in Maharashtra during the agitation for renaming the Marathwada University after Dr BR Ambedkar. “Mrs Gandhi asked me (Pawar was CM then) to travel to Delhi to explain the situation to her. She offered me all help. I expect the (current) leader of the country to do the same.”
He said it was even more serious when people who advocate values of Indian culture, lack sensitivity when they openly issue threats on TV shows. “A former CP of Mumbai (Satyapal Singh), who is now BJP MP, says the Dadri incident was minor and there was nothing to worry about. I can’t believe it when a person who has been Mumbai’s CP says this kind of things. And what BJP’s Union cultural affairs minister (Mahesh Sharma) said was also inappropriate.”
Sena ministers want CM to resolve issues
Even as speculations were rife about the Sena-BJP ruling alliance crumbling, the Sena ministers and some MLAs put the tension between the partners aside to get some pending work cleared by CM Fadnavis, on Wednesday.
Industries minister Subhash Desai led a delegation of some ministers and party MLAs to Fadnavis, asking him to expedite certain works in their respective Assembly constituencies. Desai confirmed the meeting while speaking with media persons. He did not elaborate on details.