In a volte face from his earlier opposition to a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into allegations levelled against the Adani Group by short-selling firm Hindenburg, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said that he would not oppose a JPC probe for the sake of maintaining Opposition unity.
In an interview to a vernacular news channel, Mr. Pawar further said that his ally in the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition — Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray— had not taken his fellow parties (the NCP and the Congress) into confidence while resigning from the post of Maharashtra Chief Minister following ‘rebel’ Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde’s coup last year.
“If our friends in the Opposition insist on a JPC probe, then for the sake of ensuring unity among us, we will not oppose the JPC. While we may not agree with their view, but we will ensure that our stance does not harm Opposition unity,” said Mr. Pawar.
Refutes suggestions of aiding BJP
The octogenarian NCP president, long known for his adroit political manoeuvring, further refuted suggestions of a perception that he was seen aiding the BJP, given that Prime Minister Narendra Modi often praised Mr. Pawar.
The NCP’s chief recent remarks — be it on the Savarkar issue and on the JPC probe against the Adani group – have been in contrast to that taken by the Congress, thus having the potential to trigger schism within the tripartite MVA Opposition.
Last week on Friday, Mr. Pawar had raised created a flutter after he expressed disagreement over a JPC probe while stating that industrialist Gautam Adani was being targeted.
The NCP chief’s remarks are in fact unsurprising given his strong affinity with Mr. Adani: Just last year, Mr. Adani had been invited to the Pawar clan’s bastion of Baramati as chief guest for a programme.
In his 2015 autobiography Lok Maze Sangati, Mr. Pawar had lavished praises on Mr. Adani’s enterprise and hard work.
Following his statement on Friday, the NCP explained away the reason for his stance by stating that the BJP would anyway enjoy a majority in the JPC.
“The strength of the JPC will be based on the strength of political parties in Parliament. BJP has over 200 MPs and will have maximum members in a 21-member JPC. The Opposition will have just 5-6 members. Will such a small number be able to play an effective role? But still, if the Opposition parties insist on a JPC probe, I will have no objection to it,” Mr. Pawar said.
Given the NCP’s past dalliance with the BJP, the recent decision to contest the Bazaar Committee (APMC) polls in alliance with the saffron party has raised eyebrows of Congress leaders.
“Having different opinions does not mean there is schism within the Opposition…moreover, there is a difference Mr. Pawar between contesting State and national-level elections and cooperative sector elections [APMC polls] where the latter are not fought under any party symbol or name,” Mr. Pawar said in the latest interview.
Ticking off Mr. Thackeray for resigning in a hurry, the NCP president said that the Sena (UBT) leader ought to have held a dialogue with the other parties before taking the step.
“Decision-making without discussion has consequences. All three parties [the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena] were involved in this as the CM’s post was decided in consultation with all parties…The fact that there was no discussion at that time cannot be denied,” Mr. Pawar said.