Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar has intervened to rescue the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance in Maharashtra after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s remark on V.D. Savarkar created fissures between the Congress and the other MVA constituents — the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction and the NCP.
Sena leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut is said to have spoken to Mr. Gandhi and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday to iron out the differences.
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Sources said a plan to convene a meeting of top leaders of like-minded parties is also on the cards to take forward the Opposition unity that has been forged over Mr. Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha.
Sources said Mr. Pawar, while attending Mr. Kharge’s dinner for Opposition leaders on Monday evening, made it clear that the repeated attacks on Savarkar creates unease among the MVA allies as he is a revered figure in Maharashtra who was never part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The NCP supremo further pointed out that their political fight was against the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Narendra Modi government
Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Gandhi were present at the meeting along with leaders of the Opposition parties. Mr. Gandhi told the leaders that though his ideological position on the Savarkar issue is “firm”, he is willing to “mellow” down his position if it creates problems for the allies.
Leaders of the Uddhav Thackeray faction boycotted Mr. Kharge’s dinner meet to lodge their protest against Mr Gandhi’s remark.
Mr. Gandhi had said that “he was not Savarkar to apologise”. On Sunday, he made the statement at a press conference in response to a question on whether or not, he was ready to apologise for the comments in U.K. as the BJP has been demanding.
“Last night, there were 18 parties [at Khargeji’s residence] and today we are 19 parties together and that includes Shiv Sena,” Congress comunication chief Jairam Ramesh said when asked to comment on Sena’s discomfort over the Savarkar remark.
Congress general secretary K.C. Venugopal, who addressed a press conference along with Mr. Ramesh, added,“Whatever issue between the Congress and Shiv Sena has been sorted and our issue is Adani and there is no need to distract.”
Sources said a plan to convene a meeting of the top leaders of like-minded parties is also on the cards.