Did NCP chief Sharad Pawar give Sonia Gandhi the royal snub? The Union Agriculture Minister’s conspicuous no-show at the statewide launch of the Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana where he was scheduled to share the stage with the Congress party chief has now set tongues wagging within political circles, with the gesture being viewed as an indication of changing political equations between alliance partners Congress and NCP.
Last morning, Pawar got himself admitted for a routine check-up at approximately the same time when he was expected to grace the statewide launch of the health scheme in Nagpur, along with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
Soon after his subsequent discharge from Bombay Hospital later that day, the Union Agriculture Minister went to Y B Chavan Centre to attend a function organised by the NCP Yuvati Congress headed by his daughter, MP Supriya Sule.
He had accepted the invitation for the Nagpur launch of the ambitious programme. However, he learnt later that the Congress party was going all out to gain political mileage from the launch, and had asked 1.5 lakh party workers to attend the rally at Kasturchand Park. It was then that he decided to skip the event, claimed an NCP office bearer.
He had perhaps given some prior intimation of his absence from the launch. While early posters for the event sported the names of both leaders, fresh advertisements were released late on Wednesday, which bore no traces of his name or photograph.
The move may have everything to do with the recent political skirmishes between the warring allies. The NCP has been seen ingratiating itself with a section within the BJP and Shiv Sena in the state, and the Third Front at a national level.
This may be a signal loud and clear from Pawar about the growing unrest within his party over their stormy working relationship with their Democratic Front allies. But he made a point by asking his colleague Praful Patel to attend the Nagpur function, the leader added.
Pawar was admitted to Bombay hospital after complaining of high blood pressure. He was shifted to the ICU of the hospital, from where he was discharged later in the day. Dr BK Goyal, head of the Cardiology unit at the hospital, said, “He came to the hospital only for a routine check-up and was not admitted to the general ward only due to non-availability of a bed there. After the check-ups were completed, he was given a discharge around 2 pm.” Pawar (72) was taken to the hospital while on his way to attend the Yuvati Congress programme. “He is doing fine and is absolutely normal. Other than this, I cannot disclose any further details about the patient,” added Dr Goyal. Pawar was accompanied to the hospital by his wife Pratibha and headed for the programme after he was given a discharge.