Union Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar came out all guns blazing on Saturday, tackling the recent controversy surrounding his nephew Ajit Pawar with aplomb. He took more than a few pot shots at the Opposition as well as the NCP’s political ally, the Congress. Speaking at a meeting in Thane, the only time Pawar sounded guarded was when he was asked about a recent order by the Bombay High Court on releasing water from the Ujani dam.
The NCP chief began his speech by pulling up Ajit Pawar for making insensitive remarks at a public meeting last Saturday. He admitted that the deputy chief minister’s words were inappropriate and added that political leaders should take precautions while making public comments. “He should choose his words carefully,” said the union agriculture minister. The veteran leader also reminded his nephew about party discipline, but clarified that it was not for the legislators to take a call on his (Ajit’s) resignation but for the party. A few days ago, the deputy CM had said he would speak with his colleagues who had elected him as leader of the NCP’s legislature wing before taking a decision on his resignation.
Pawar senior also had a few words for opposition parties. He said the matter should have ended with an apology from Ajit and criticised the opposition parties for stalling legislative proceedings. He felt all parties would do better to move on and tackle more serious issues such as the terrible drought situation in the state. On the issue of illegal constructions in Thane and the ongoing demolition drive, Pawar said he was not for protecting illegal constructions. In fact, the Thane Municipal Corporation should first demolish those illegal buildings being backed or protected by political leaders to set an example, he said. “Such a move will deter others. But, the administration should also take care of the people who will be homeless. First provide them alternate shelter and then demolish the constructions,” he elaborated.
Asked about the Opposition demand to stop water supply to the Wankhede stadium during IPL matches, Pawar said that to the best of his knowledge, Mumbai was not facing a water crisis. On a more sarcastic note, he wondered aloud whether the government should also stop water supplied to gardens, open grounds and even the Jijamata Garden in the city.