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Sharad Pawar ‘thanks’ Modi for MVA’s Lok Sabha triumph

Updated on: 16 June,2024 05:18 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore |

In first joint address since general elections, MVA takes potshots at the PM, says NDA lost wherever he held rallies

Sharad Pawar ‘thanks’ Modi for MVA’s Lok Sabha triumph

Udhhav Thackeray, Sharad Pawar and Prithviraj Chavan make a show of unity on Saturday. Pic/Satej Shinde

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Sharad Pawar ‘thanks’ Modi for MVA’s Lok Sabha triumph

At the first media meet jointly addressed by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) following their triumph in the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra, the opposition leaders gave credit for their feat to not only the state’s voters, but also to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a jibe over the possible waning of the ‘Modi wave’.

NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray and Congress leader and ex-CM Prithviraj Chavan made a show of unity at the event on Saturday, vowing to fight the forthcoming Vidhan Sabha polls together as MVA to displace the Eknath Shinde government. However, state Congress chief Nana Patole and his party colleague, opposition leader in the Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar were conspicuous by their absence.

MVA battered NDA in the recent general elections, winning 30 out of 48 seats in the state. BJP’s seat count fell to nine from its previous tally of 23. NDA had 42 seats in Maharashtra in the 2019 elections. Pawar thanked Modi for making  MVA’s victory easier. “It is my duty to thank the PM, because the NDA lost wherever he held roadshows and rallies,” he said.

When asked about NDA’s allegations that the INDIA bloc had used a fake narrative to woo voters, Thackeray mocked Modi, asking whether the narrative the PM had used throughout elections—be it about stealing mangalsutras, buffaloes, property or about providing employment—was true.

Pawar was asked about the “M-factor”, referring to Muslims votes going to him en bloc in Mumbai, and the ruling party’s observation that the Marathi community didn’t vote for Thackeray this time. The NCP(SP) chief responded, “People from all religions have voted for us. Doesn’t the M-factor include Marathis, too? Why would Marathi people vote for the people who are looting the city that was claimed by shedding blood [of martyrs in the Samyukta Maharashtra movement]?”

Thackeray, in turn, rubbished remarks that he had dropped his father’s Hindutva ideology and stopped addressing the audience as “My Hindu sisters and brothers”. Thackeray said he was very proud that he had been using the words ‘My deshbhakt (patriot) sisters and brothers’. “It has been proved right [that the people are patriots],” he said.

The Sena (UBT) chief questioned the stability of the NDA government, set up with the support of Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP. He said, “They [NDA] said it was a natural alliance when we [Sena] were with them. What is it now [with other partners], natural or unnatural?”

Commenting on the preparedness of MVA for the next mission, Thackeray said the Lok Sabha wasn’t the final destination. “The Vidhan Sabha is still ahead. We have just begun the battle. We will have all of us together [in the polls],” he added.

Senior Congress leader Chavan ruled out the possibility of pressure tactics in seat-sharing talks for the Assembly polls, amid talk that the party—from which the maximum number of MPs won in MVA—will ask for a major share. “There will be no big brother and small brother. Candidates will be selected for each constituency based on electoral merit, whichever party the individual may belong to,” he said.

In a show of bonhomie, ex-CM Chavan thanked Thackeray for giving MVA good traction among voters by holding rallies across the state. “There was an attempt to polarise voters, but that didn’t work. Our leaders focused on the public issues,” he said, adding that Saturday’s primary meeting was about charting a way forward for the Assembly elections. “We strongly believe that we will be able to change the government,” he concluded.

No. of seats MVA won in the Lok Sabha polls

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