Opposition meeting in Patna | No discussion held on 'PM post', says NCP chief Sharad Pawar

NCP chief says rising unemployment and communal incidents among other things were discussed at the meeting

Updated - June 26, 2023 07:30 pm IST

Published - June 26, 2023 12:18 pm IST - Pune

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar addresses a press briefing after the conclusion of the Opposition leaders’ meeting, in Patna on Friday.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar addresses a press briefing after the conclusion of the Opposition leaders’ meeting, in Patna on Friday. | Photo Credit: ANI

There was no discussion on the prime ministerial post at the June 23 Opposition meeting in Patna, clarified Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Monday, stating that rising unemployment and communal incidents among other things were discussed at the meeting.

“There was a discussion on the deliberate attempts at some places to encourage communal riots and on how those who are in power, that is BJP, are trying to aggravate tensions between two communities,” Mr. Pawar told at his stronghold Baramati in Pune district.

Also Read | Tenets of unity: On the Opposition meet in Patna

He chastised the BJP for its criticism of the Patna meet, remarking that while they could hold their meets with parties friendly to their interests, why could not the Opposition do the same.

Mr. Pawar said there was a “dearth of political maturity” within the BJP.

The NCP chief also took a swipe at BJP leader and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, remarking that Mr. Fadnavis was “a primary school-going child” in 1978 (when Mr. Pawar formed his first government) who was ignorant of Maharashtra’s political history.

Also Read | Amit Shah terms Patna Opposition meeting ‘a photo session’

He was responding to Mr. Fadnavis’ remark that current Chief Minister and Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde’s intra-party revolt, which split Uddhav Thackeray’s undivided Shiv Sena and toppled the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) last year, could not be termed a “betrayal” by Mr. Shinde’s detractors as Mr. Pawar had done the same in 1978 when he brought down Congressman Vasantdada Patil’s government.

“When I had formed the government in 1978, I had taken everyone with me, including the BJP, which was then part of the Janata Party. Uttamrao Patil [of the Janata Party] was the Deputy Chief Minister. There was Hashu Advani [also of the Janata Party] as well…everyone was part of my government. He [Mr. Fadnavis] must have been in primary school then and hence is ignorant about history,” quipped the NCP chief.

First coup in 1978

Mr. Pawar had staged his first coup in 1978 by toppling Congress strongman Vasantdada Patil’s government and forming his Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) coalition. The NCP chief was the State’s youngest Chief Minister (at the age of 38) at the time. 

In a riposte to Mr. Pawar, Mr. Fadnavis remarked: “While it is true I was in primary school when Mr. Pawar staged his coup in 1978, Pawar saaheb has either not heard what I said or whatever I’ve said has made him uneasy…all I said was that in 1978, he split the Congress, took 40 MLAs with him and formed the government with us [the Janata Party]. Eknath Shinde, who had in fact secured the mandate with us [BJP-Shiv Sena] in 2019, broke away from Uddhav Thackeray’s MVA to join us again…so, my question is why Mr. Pawar’s move is termed ‘strategic’ while Mr. Shinde’s act is derided as a ‘betrayal’.”

Also Read | Altered chemistry, strategy define Opposition unity 2.0

Mr. Shinde’s intra-party revolt — the largest crisis the Bal Thackeray-founded Shiv Sena has faced since its inception in 1966 — split the party wide apart and brought down Mr. Uddhav Thackeray’s tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) Government in June last year.

‘Political posturing’

Meanwhile, Mr. Pawar dismissed Telangana Chief Minister and BRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s show of strength in Maharashtra, while remarking that it was mere “political posturing.”

Mr. Rao arrived in the temple town of Pandharpur (in Solapur district) on Monday with a large ministerial retinue.

Notable NCP leader from Pandharpur, Bhagirath Bhalke, is set to join the BRS on June 27 in Mr. Rao’s presence. Mr. Bhalke is the son of the late NCP MLA Bharat Bhalke, who died of post-COVID complications in 2020. In the bypoll that followed, the party fielded Mr. Bhalke as its candidate. He, however, was trounced by the BJP’s Samadhan Autade.

Both Mr. Sharad Pawar and his nephew, NCP leader Ajit Pawar have said the BRS’ strenuous efforts to expand its footprint in Maharashtra will have no impact on the election results in the future.

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