In a sharp reaction to senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan’s remarks that the Nationalist Congress Party should not be seen as both supporting the BJP government and opposing it and that it should come clear on its relationship with the ruling party, NCP chief Sharad Pawar Thursday said the former chief minister’s understanding of politics was “poor and shallow”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Pawar said, “The NCP has been playing an effective role as an Opposition party along with the Congress in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. Instead of questioning the NCP’s role, it would have been better if Chavan had spoken to his own party leaders. He should have asked Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad to understand the role of NCP. It also shows how disconnected he is from his own party, or it shows his own standing in the party and politics.”
In an interview to The Indian Express Wednesday, Chavan had said NCP should explain its relationship with the BJP. He had said, “NCP had declared unconditional support to the BJP government in Maharashtra on one hand and was playing the role of Opposition on the other, thus sending confusing signals.”
In an angry outburst in response to Chavan’s statement, Pawar said, “NCP has better standing compared to the Congress in his (Chavan’s) own home constituency Karad in Satara district. It speaks about his political leadership.”
He added, “The ongoing conflict between Shiv Sena and BJP is there for all to see. Yet, if Chavan does not understand what’s going on in Sena-BJP, it a comment on his political understanding of state. Instead of questioning NCP, he should take some time to study and analyse the situation and understand politics.”
The harsh comments were in response to Chavan asserting that NCP’s support to BJP had lent the government strength in Maharashtra. Chavan had also held the NCP indirectly responsible for keeping the saffron alliance intact, arguing that Sena was afraid if it withdrew BJP would seek NCP’s help to keep the government stable.
Dismissing Chavan’s argument as “baseless”, Pawar said, “I wonder if he was aware of the developments in Gondia where the Congress and the BJP have formed an alliance in the zilla parishad. The Congress has joined hands with the BJP, that too for a vice-present post.”
The NCP had offered to forge an alliance with the Congress in Gondia Zilla Parishad as they were the leading party. But the Congress struck a deal with the BJP.
Chavan’s decision to question Pawar has not gone down well with the NCP. Apart from Pawar, several other senior leaders said he had no “locus standi” or “right” to raise the issue in public.
A senior NCP MP said, “It was both amusing and surprising, especially when he does not even enjoy a post in his own party.” He added, “Everybody knows what his contribution was in the elections and where the Congress-NCP alliance ended up under his leadership in the 2014 assembly elections in Maharashtra.”
Pawar had been critical of Chavan earlier also when the two parties were ruling the state in alliance. In the run-up to state elections last year, Pawar had criticised the then CM saying those in power seemed to be suffering from “paralysis” as their hands shook while signing files.