Giving a boost to his ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ ally Uddhav Thackeray, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said that despite Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s coup that split the Shiv Sena, the dyed-in-wool Shiv Sainiks were still loyal to Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray.
Speaking in Kolhapur, Mr. Pawar said, “While it is a fact that a division has been created within the Shiv Sena and that some legislators and MPs may have switched loyalties, when I travel across the State, I find that the committed Shiv Sainik at the grassroots has not moved away. They are very much with Uddhav Thackeray,” said Mr. Pawar.
Commenting on the alleged high-handedness shown by Ministers of the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government, Mr. Pawar said that people in power should keep their feet on the ground.
“But, their [Ministers of the ruling government] statements about sending someone to jail, scrapping someone’s bail does not behove of a ruling party,” said Mr. Pawar, alluding to the ‘vindictive’ remarks made by MLAs of the Shinde faction regarding Uddhav camp loyalist Sanjay Raut, who recently was released on bail, after being in prison for over three months.
Effort on to fight together
The NCP chief, widely perceived as the ‘architect’ of the ideologically opposed alliance of the three-party MVA coalition, saw his work unravel after an intra-party rebellion by Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde facilitated by the BJP toppled the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA, with the result that Mr. Shinde became the new Chief Minister while the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis became the new Deputy Chief Minister in June last year.
When questioned about the three-party ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ (MVA) coalition contesting future elections in Maharashtra and the national level as a joint entity, Mr. Pawar said that efforts were on for the NCP, the Congress and Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena to fight together.
“But we are still in the discussions stage…We hope to take other parties along as well. We [the MVA] have been taking a joint stance on many issues. In this vein, I do not foresee too many difficulties in coming together for future polls,” opined the NCP chief, expressing optimism at the MVA, continuing for the 2024 elections.
Mr. Pawar again praised the ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ being undertaken by Congressman Rahul Gandhi.
“When he started the Yatra, the BJP ridiculed his decision, made disparaging comments and poked fun. It was not a yatra undertaken for the Congress party alone. Many people from various political parties and social organisations participated in it. In Maharashtra, NCP leaders including Supriya Sule also participated. The yatra has gained acceptance with the common man participating in it and this reality cannot be dismissed,” said Mr. Pawar.
“While it is a fact that a division has been created within the Shiv Sena and that some legislators and MPs may have switched loyalties, when I travel across the State, I find that the committed Shiv Sainik at the grassroots has not moved away”Sharad PawarNationalist Congress Party chief