No big guns at UPA rally in Mumbai: Sonia falls ill, Pawar faces chopper trouble

Apr 21, 2014, 07:39 IST | Ravikiran Deshmukh

NCP chief Sharad Pawar did not attend yesterday’s rally, claiming that his chopper could not take off due to bad weather

After Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi cancelled her Mumbai tour, citing health reasons, the party received a double whammy as NCP president Sharad Pawar also did not show up at the joint rally, where party vice president Rahul Gandhi was asked to don the mantle.

Sharad Pawar has repeatedly expressed his reservations over the working style of Rahul Gandhi
Sharad Pawar has repeatedly expressed his reservations over the working style of Rahul Gandhi

While the party claims the chopper that was supposed to carry Pawar from Mahad to Mumbai could not take off due to bad weather, the party chief’s absence does not come as a surprise for those who have been closely following the alliance. Time and again, Pawar has expressed his reservations over the working style of Congress’ gen-next leader.

Pawar was quite vocal in his disapproval of Rahul’s manner in which he forced the UPA government to withdraw the controversial ordinance on tainted MPs. He was also unhappy about the implementation of the food security scheme, although later he had relented. Even while addressing NCP leaders, Pawar has passed cryptic remarks on the national advisory committee.

Ill health
When it was clear by afternoon that Sonia Gandhi would not be able to attend the rally, word came in that Pawar, who was supposed to reach Mumbai by 4 pm, also could not fly due to bad weather. The city’s district guardian minister, Jayant Patil represented NCP in the rally on his behalf.

According to an NCP minister, Pawar has given a clear message that he does not approve Rahul’s leadership. While the Congress rally was scheduled to start by 5 pm, Rahul Gandhi reached the venue at MMRDA ground at BKC around 6.35 pm. Congress leaders had a tough time trying to make the audience sit through the delay.

The absence of the two leaders may come as a major setback for the five Congress and one NCP candidate of Mumbai. Milind Deora, Eknath Gaikwad, Priya Dutt, Gurudas Kamat, Sanjay Nirupam of Congress party and NCP candidate Sanjay Dina Patil are locked in a close battle with BJP and Shiv Sena party candidates.

Meanwhile, BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is expected to address a rally at the same venue on Monday.

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