Cornered over the issues of price rise and Indian Premier League (IPL), Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Thursday sought to target the Congress by demanding the implementation of the Ranganath Mishra Commission report that recommended 15 per cent reservation for minorities.
In an apparent reference to the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief said some big parties with 150 years of history tend to take the minorities for granted, thinking that they would not go to the Bharatiya Janata Party or Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh or the Shiv Sena.
“But if such attitude gains ground among secular parties, it leads to ignoring the genuine problems of minorities. This approach is wrong and if it persists they will also say if we are going to hell let us take the political parties along,” Pawar said at a function organised by the NCP’s minority cell in Delhi.
“We do not claim we are a big party with 150 years of experience. Minority welfare is a long drawn process, but at least we should make a beginning. NCP is working in that direction,” he said.
By playing the minority card, the Maratha strongman has sought to get back at the Congress, which has been critical of him in the recent past. Many senior Congress leaders have repeatedly blamed Pawar for spiralling prices of essential commodities and the IPL mess.
The two parties have also been at loggerheads over issues such as actor Amitabh Bachchan’s presence at an official function in Mumbai, the Navi Mumbai civic elections and the division of seats in the Maharashtra legislative council.
The Congress has downplayed its differences with the NCP, saying the two parties have been in alliance for the past 11 years. “We don’t comment on our alliance partners,” Congress media department head Janardan Dwivedi said on Thursday.