Karjat, (The Hindu): In what can only mean more trouble for the BJP, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said he had met Sena working president Uddhav Thackeray 10 days ago.
Speaking to reporters on the last day of the two-day NCP conference in Karjat, Mr. Pawar said, “Though [Mr. Thackeray] didn’t talk about withdrawing support, my reading of him is he is not happy being part of this government. He is now more concerned about increasing his party’s strength than fighting elections within a coalition.” He said Mr. Thackeray had wanted to know the NCP’s position in the event of the Sena quitting the government. “It told him that we will decide when you do withdraw support. However, we will not support t”
This is the first time that Mr. Pawar has admitted to meeting Mr. Thackeray, who, despite being part of the ruling alliances in the State and the Centre, has been openly unhappy with the BJP-led government’s policies.
When the results to the 2014 Assembly elections were announced, Mr. Pawar, whose party had fared poorly, had extended ‘unconditional support’ to the BJP. However, his overture was not taken cognisance of, and the Sena re-formed its 25-year-old alliance with the BJP to join the government.
Addressing party members, he chided senior leader Praful Patel for portraying him as the next Prime Minister in 2019. “I have no idea why this issue was even discussed. What is the need to bring up this topic? I ask party members to clear that from their heads and concentrate on building the party. Our only aim should be to make the party stronger and fight elections with strength, nothing else,” he said.
Criticising the State government’s media campaign to celebrate three years in power, Mr. Pawar said, “The tagline mi labharthi (I am a beneficiary) is insulting to farmers, who will react with mi apmanit (I feel insulted). The only beneficiaries are those in power.”
He also hit out at the government for curbing freedom of expression on social media by sending notices to youngsters speaking out against it. Naming two Officers on Special Duty (OSD) in the Chief Minister’s Office, Ketan Pathak and Nidhi Kamdar, who are campaigning for the BJP from within the government, he said, “Why is public money being spent on promoting the party?”
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