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Shiv Sena is trusted partner: Sharad Pawar

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar said there was no need to worry about the one-on-one meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, because the Shiv Sena was a trusted partner. He also invoked the late Balasaheb Thackeray, who had kept his promise of not opposing Indira Gandhi four decades ago.

“Speculations started after Thackeray met the PM. Doubts were raised. If some people think that the Sena will give up its strong role (in the MVA), then, they are living in a different paradise,” said Pawar, adding that there was nothing to worry about this meeting, while assuring the NCP’s rank and file at the party’s 22nd foundation day on Thursday.

Pawar said the people never thought the NCP and Sena would join hands. “But we allied to give an alternative [to the BJP]. Fortunately, the people of Maharashtra accepted and trusted it. I must tell you that the government is running smoothly and will complete its five-year term. We will work together for the people even in the future Lok Sabha and Assembly polls,” he said.

“We hadn’t worked with the Sena till now (till 2019), but my experience says it (Sena) is faithful. Balasaheb promised Indiraji his support when the Congress was defeated. He didn’t worry much about it. Shiv Sena did not contest polls to support the Congress. He kept his word,” Pawar said.

Pawar’s statements were interpreted in various ways because the political circles have a sense that the BJP will not deter from realigning with the Sena or try again to get the NCP or its splinter on its side, a failed attempt in 2019 notwithstanding.

According to some observers, Pawar soothed the party’s rank and file that was disturbed over speculations of Sena drifting away. “He also suggested having a prolonged pact if the Sena was ready to have one. While certifying the ally’s faithfulness, Pawar put the ball in Sena’s court by invoking the party founder. Pawar wants to say that, like his father, Uddhav shouldn’t fear repercussions of his current political stand,” said a senior NCP leader.

Pawar praises CM

The MVA architect had a word of praise for the CM for successfully running the free meal programme -- Shiv Bhojan Thali -- and free ration scheme in the pandemic. “I had my doubts. But the feedback I got about the free meal is very good. The government implemented programmes in the disastrous time.” Pawar also offered some worldly advice to his party leaders. The NCP, which came into power in the state immediately after its inception in 1999, sat in the Opposition 15 years later. It came back to power in an exceptional realignment with the Sena and the previous partner, the Congress, which was relegated to the third position after being at the top till 2014.

“Power should not be concentrated, but should be participated by more. Power corrupts you if you cling on to it generations after generations. You must be all-inclusive,” he said, while mentioning why reservation in politics (local self-governments) was important to ensure participation of the cross section of society. “Many people left us, but we made new leaders who are capable of leading the state. The young must be promoted in politics.”


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