Pawar backs Modi, refuses debate on 2002 riots

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Sunday backed Narendra Modi, saying there was no need for any debate on Gujarat chief minister’s role in 2002 riots after the courts had absolved him.

“In our country once the courts have given their verdict, the question of holding a debate on it does not arise. We accept the court's order and there won't be any debate on it," Pawar said.

Pawar’s colleague Praful Patel too had on Wednesday said any judicial pronouncement on Modi's alleged involvement in the post-Godhra riots should be accepted.

If the judicial system has given any pronouncement, we ought to respect it and not question it further, Patel had said.

Pawar, however, did some balancing act when he said his party will contest Lok Sabha elections with Congress.

Pawar clarified that ongoing talks with Congress about seat sharing were “cordial” and the issue of will be "resolved within 8-10 days."

“When more than one party is involved in seat sharing, talks becomes necessary from both sides. Such talks are on at different levels,” he said.

His statement came two days after Patel had raised questions over the future of the alliance with Congress due to the delay in sorting out seat sharing issue.

The NCP has been sharing power with Congress in Maharashtra since 1999 and has been a key ally of UPA at the Center for the past 10 years.

Pawar also denied that Patel had given any ultimatum to the Congress on seat sharing.

Patel had reportedly said that “in politics, no option is ever closed for any political party” and the NCP will tell Maharashtra chief minister that a decision needs to be taken soon.

The NCP and Congress are trying to drive home a hard bargain on the seat-sharing issue. The NCP wants to contest 22 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats from Maharashtra, while the Congress wants its alliance partner to settle for 19.

Pawar’s latest remarks about talks with Congress in cordial manner come on the heels of some media reports about his meeting with Narendra Modi in Delhi.

Denying that no such meeting ever took place, Pawar termed the reports “baseless”.  

In his attempt to distant NCP from BJP and moving a step further towards Congress, the union agriculture minister endorsed Sonia Gandhi’s remarks that BJP is sowing seeds of poison while indulging in divisive politics.

When asked about his reaction on Gandhi’s remarks, Pawar said, “The opposition parties do not believe in democracy and this was evident from the kind of language they spoke recently.”

“Holding a whip in their hands, some people in the state spoke the language of rancor,” Pawar said referring to the recent public meet at Ichalkaranji where BJP-Shiv Sena-Swabhimani Sanghatana kickstarted their campaign for Lok Sabha polls.

During the meet, Uddhav Thackeray, Gopinath Munde and Raju Shetty held whip in hand and said it will be used to punish Congress-NCP leaders in the state for all the misdeeds they have committed.   

“Irrespective of the language that opposition leaders are using, we will never stoop so low,” Pawar said.

 

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