States

Harshavardhan slandering NCP: Ajit Pawar

Ajit Pawar

Ajit Pawar  

He also rebukes Raj Thackeray for his silence following ED questioning

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar on Wednesday hit out at former Congressman Harshavardhan Patil, dismissing his allegations against the NCP’s alleged ‘ingratitude’ over the candidacy of the crucial Indapur Assembly segment as “baseless”.

Speaking in Baramati, Mr. Pawar further rebuked NCP ‘ally’, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, stating that Mr. Thackeray had gone quiet after the Enforcement Directorate had questioned him in the Kohinoor Mills case.

Reacting to Mr. Patil’s formal entry into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today, Mr. Pawar said the Congressman had already made up his mind to join the BJP, and was wrongly blaming the NCP and the Congress leadership for slighting him. The NCP leader further said Mr. Patil had left in a hurry even as a ‘compromise formula’ over the Indapur seat was being worked out by the Congress and the NCP leaderships.

“At the time of the Lok Sabha polls, he [Mr. Patil] had said that he would abide by coalition dharma and had assured of following any decision taken by the top leadership of our parties. Now, he is misleading people by slandering the NCP, Sharad Pawar, Supriya Sule and me…even [senior Congressman and former Chief Minister] Prithviraj Chavan had recently urged him to wait. I, too, had visited his house in Pune but he [Mr. Patil] refused to meet me,” said Mr. Pawar.

Mr. Patil, a former State cabinet Minister and four-time Member of the Legislative Assembly from his stronghold Indapur, had lost to the NCP’s Dattatrey Bharne in the 2014 Assembly election, when the Congress and the NCP had contested separately. Despite the bad blood between the Pawar and Patil clans and a long history of political rivalry, Mr. Patil had been convinced by Ajit Pawar and other Congress leaders to support NCP Member of Parliament Supriya Sule (Sharad Pawar’s daughter) and to campaign to ensure her victory from the Baramati Lok Sabha seat before the general election this year.

Just before the Lok Sabha elections, Mr. Pawar had conferred with Mr. Patil at his Pune residence to mollify the Congressman and ensure that he campaigned for Ms. Sule’s win by not swinging towards the BJP. Mr. Patil had backed Ms. Sule in the hope that the NCP would support his candidacy in the Assembly election for the Indapur Assembly segment, which forms a crucial part of the Baramati Lok Sabha seat.

However, the candidacy soon proved controversial as the NCP showed it was not inclined to cut the ticket of their sitting MLA (Mr. Bharne). This bitterly upset Mr. Patil, who called a meeting of his supporters last week and lashed out publicly against the NCP’s ‘duplicity’.

“After he called a meeting of his supporters and hurled allegations against us, I tried calling him no less than 50 times over the phone, to no avail… we [the NCP and the Congress] were thinking of accommodating him as an MLC in the Upper House. In this way, no injustice would be done to our sitting MLA Dattatreya Bharne as well,” Mr. Pawar said. He said he had never gone back on his promise to Mr. Patil.

The NCP leader also said the party had wholeheartedly backed Mr. Patil’s daughter, Ankita Patil, when contested and won the Bavda-Lakhewadi Zilla Parishad election held in June this year.

Meanwhile, he hit out at the ruling BJP’s tactics of silencing Opposition leaders by threatening investiations against them. “After the ED’s questioning of Raj Thackeray over the Kohinoor Mills issue, even he has stopped talking,” said Mr. Pawar.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 2:03:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/harshavardhan-slandering-ncp-ajit-pawar/article29395487.ece

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