Other States

Many thought I will retire from politics, it’s not happening anytime soon: Sharad Pawar

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar in Baramati on Thursday.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar in Baramati on Thursday.  

In a first, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray inaugurates four-day agriculture expo in Baramati

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, considered the force behind the formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, said on Thursday that while many people thought he would retire from active politics, the people of the State, especially the youth, did not let it happen.

“At the time of the Assembly polls, many thought I would retire [from politics]. But that did not happen… The people of Maharashtra, especially the youth, did not let it happen and I don’t think I shall be retiring anytime soon,” said the NCP supremo, speaking after the inauguration of a four-day agriculture expo ‘Krishik’ in his bastion Baramati.

The event witnessed the participation of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who was in Baramati for the first time to inaugurate ‘Krishik’ along with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. Also present were Bollywood actor Aamir Khan and MP Supriya Sule.

During his address, Mr. Pawar noted the increase in production owing to changing agricultural practices across the world coupled with new innovations.

“Given the centrality of agriculture in a highly populous country like India, there is a need to usher in changes in agricultural practices and stimulate research,” said Mr. Pawar, a former Union Agriculture Minister.

In this context, he rued the restrictions imposed on the research of genetically modified (GM) crops.

“The chief reason behind it is the Supreme Court’s restrictions on conducting research in this field. While I cannot speak on whether it is the judges’ job to clamp such restrictions, it is better they don’t look into such issues,” Mr. Pawar said, adding that while he had no objections if something harmful was halted, it was not right to stop something that could maximize productivity.

He recalled how some years back, research on a variant of genetically modified sugarcane that could be cultivated using minimum water could not be carried out owing to restrictions on GM crops.

“There is a lot of talk about sugarcane cultivation and excess water use. But because of drip irrigation, sugarcane cultivation is possible even with minimum use of water as is being practiced in Baramati,” said Mr. Pawar.

He further observed that as ordinary farmers could not afford the investments in drip irrigation, the government ought to provide them with funds and subsidies to encourage them to adopt this technique.

Prior to the inauguration, Mr. Thackeray sought to downplay the controversy sparked off by Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s comments calling Mr. Ajit Pawar a “stepney” during the latter’s brief, notorious dalliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Amid much bonhomie, Mr. Thackeray was seen seated alongside his Deputy Chief Minister as the latter drove him for a while in a golf cart across the sprawling, 110- acre Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Baramati.

Before getting into the golf cart, Mr. Thackeray metaphorically remarked that “the steering wheel (of the MVA government) was in the hands of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar”.

At an event in Pune on Wednesday, Mr. Raut had referred to Mr. Pawar as a ‘stepney’ (spare tyre) during the latter’s defection to the BJP which resulted in a brief, 80-hour government with Devendra Fadnavis as Chief Minister and the NCP leader as Deputy Chief Minister.

Mr. Raut had said: “The BJP didn’t know it was dealing with a stepney (or spare) tyre, and that other ‘tyres’ [other NCP MLAs who refused to join Mr. Pawar] were intact. However, the Sena MP, praising Ajit Pawar, added to his remarks by stating: “now, Ajit Pawar is one the four main wheels of the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance’s ‘car’”.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 10:55:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/many-thought-i-will-retire-from-politics-its-not-happening-anytime-soon-sharad-pawar/article30580266.ece

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