NAGPUR, Maharashtra: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has dispelled all speculations about a rift within the three-party Uddhav Thackeray government in Maharashtra, saying that the government will complete its full five-year term in office.
However, the veteran leader asked Thackeray to have more dialogue with his allies.
This was the first time Saamana has interviewed someone outside the Thackeray family, an attempt to send a signal to those questioning the working of the coalition government led by Thackeray. There have been many news reports in recent days pointing at a lack of coordination between the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, the members of the Maha Vikas Aghadi.
“I have no doubt that the Thackeray government will complete its full five years and if we take proper care, we will also fight the next elections together,” Pawar told Raut, when asked about the fate of the Thackeray government.
The NCP supremo is considered the architect of the Uddhav Thackeray government in Maharashtra, which came to power last year after dramatic events that spanned weeks.
When asked about media reports about differences between him and the chief minister over the lockdown imposed to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the NCP chief denied this, saying that if Thackeray had not taken a tough stand, “we would have witnessed a situation like New York here”.
Pawar also responded to former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis’s allegations that the NCP supremo was involved in discussions with the BJP for government formation in Maharashtra before and after the 2019 assembly elections.
“I don’t know what his (Fadnavis) role was in the decision-making process of the BJP before becoming the CM. Before that, he was only an active MLA in opposition. But I don’t think he had the stature to take decisions by sitting with national leaders (of BJP). I did make a conscious statement once to stop Shiv Sena from going with BJP. I don’t agree with what Fadnavis is saying. We were only making efforts to create a rift between Shiv Sena and BJP.”
Responding to a question on Fandanvis’s claims that he had almost reached an understanding with the BJP for government formation and did a U-turn at the last moment after the 2019 Maharashtra elections, the NCP chief said that some people from the BJP had spoken to him about forming a government together, banking on his “friendly relations” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I did receive such invitations. But I personally told the PM in his chamber in the Parliament that I am not going to come with you. We would either form a government with Shiv Sena or sit in the opposition.”
The 79-year-old also had sharp words for Fadnavis, currently the leader of opposition in the Maharashtra assembly, calling him “arrogant”.
“In the past five years, despite being a part of the (Fadnavis) government, Shiv Sena leaders were anxious. The BJP kept on sidelining them. No politicians should take the people for granted. People realize that it was arrogance and that such politicians need to be taught a lesson,” Pawar said.
He also addressed the rumors that he was the actual operator behind the Thackeray government.
“I am not even a headmaster or remote control of this government. Government and administration can’t be run through remote control. A democratic government can’t be run through remote control. The exam (of Thackeray government) is yet to be completed. Written is over but practical is remaining. But my student (Uddhav Thackeray) has successfully passed the exam and I am sure he will clear the upcoming exams with equal success.”