Making his first public appearance in the city after undergoing hip surgery, the veteran leader took potshots at the Sena chief, saying his party would benefit if Uddhav spent more time on his creative pursuits
Soon after Sharad Pawar recovered from a major hip surgery, it was business as usual for the NCP boss. Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in Nariman Point, Pawar took potshots at Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, saying the Sena would benefit if Uddhav directed his energies on photography.
Sharad Pawar addressed a press conference at the NCP headquarters in Nariman Point yesterday
This was Pawar’s first public appearance in the city after his surgery. In the barb, he was referring to a recent exhibition of Uddhav’s photography work that was held at a city exhibition centre from January 7 to January 12, to raise funds for distressed farmers. “I admire Uddhav as a seasoned photographer. I have seen his work many times in the past. But I could not visit his photo exhibition this time because of health issues, though I was invited,” said Pawar, adding, “the Sena would benefit if he (Uddhav) concentrated more on his photography.”
Leaders from across the parties appreciated Uddhav’s exhibits, but many said, in private, that the Sena chief, being a partner in the state government, should have gotten the BJP to help farmers at the earliest, instead of selling his work. On the other hand, Sena leaders said the exhibition was held in an attempt to rub the BJP the wrong way.
Pawar’s advice is seen as a snub to the Sena chief, whose father, Bal Thackeray, was one of his closest personal friends. The NCP supremo and Uddhav have been at loggerheads since the state went into election mode last year. Pawar even had Uddhav in a Catch-22 situation when he extended unconditional support to the BJP government in the state. As a result, the Sena sat in opposition before striking a compromise to join the state government.
At the conference, Pawar also lashed out against the BJP government for ignoring issues that dog farmers, in particular, and the public, in general.
PM Narendra Modi has not responded to Pawar’s letter, in which he had raised serious concerns over CM Devendra Fadnavis’ idea that the PM should lead a panel to fast-track Mumbai’s key projects. On December 18, he had criticised Fadnavis’ suggestion, and in doing so, had attempted to fan the rivalry between the ruling allies. He had also played up the Marathi-Gujarati issue, which was a major point of contention between the Sena and BJP in the Assembly elections.
“I have not got any acknowledgement from the PM’s office. Maybe they don’t deem it fit to respond to an MP. We did reply to MPs (when Congress-NCP was in power at the Centre),” Pawar said in response to mid-day’s question.
Sources in the BJP said Pawar was unlikely to get any response. “We have information that Modi has shown Pawar’s letter the dustbin,” they said.