‘No party was specified; it was a general statement'
Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said he was pained by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's remark in the Lok Sabha that coalition partners were giving him trouble.
The president of the Nationalist Congress Party, which has 15 MPs in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, said: “We have been working with the Central government for seven to eight years and the NCP has not opposed any of the government decisions. Such statements by the Prime Minister are making me restless.”
Asked about the possibility that the remark was aimed at other allies and not the NCP, Mr Pawar said since no party was specified, it was a general statement and this was causing him grief. He called a press conference here to specifically give his reaction to Dr. Singh's remark.
The Prime Minister, in his reply to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President's address, had said: “I am sure that the hon. Members also realise that the difficult decisions that we have to take are made more difficult by the fact that we are a coalition Government and we have to evolve policy keeping in mind the need to maintain a consensus.”
“We believe in coalition dharma”
Mr. Pawar said the NCP was a significant coalition partner and it had done nothing to displease the Centre. “We are a disciplined party and we believe in the coalition dharma.” The NCP had decided to be part of the coalition and it would stick to that.
Last Tuesday, at a meeting of the UPA coordination committee, it was decided that the allies would meet daily and the process was started. A decision was taken to work together and discuss everything. The Prime Minister did not raise the issue at that meeting. It was one of the coalition partners which raised the issue of their working together, Mr. Pawar said.
The NCP leader said he did not attend that meeting as he was unwell and sent Union Heavy Industries Praful Patel.
Mr. Pawar said he was speaking out and defending his party but he did not expect anything from the Prime Minister.
As for the swearing-in of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Mr. Pawar said his family had a very old relationship with Mr. Badal and since he couldn't go, his daughter Supriya Sule and Mr. Praful Patel attended the function.
Keywords: UPA coalition