It was probably the first time when Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar campaigned for a member of Sunil Dutt’s family.
The NCP chief surprised many as he put behind his differences with the Dutt family and campaigned for Dutt’s daughter and Congress candidate Priya Dutt (43) on Monday. He addressed rally in a Muslim-dominated area of Kurla in her Mumbai North Central constituency.
“Priya to hamare ghar ki beti hain (Priya is our daughter),” Pawar said on two occasions during his 20-minute speech.
His intention to openly declare his support to Priya became clear just a minute into the speech that NCP defector and BSP candidate Haji Ibrahim Shaikh (55) aka Bhaijaan standing against Dutt was being indirectly supported by the NCP, thus spoiling chances for Dutt.
“Many people have earned their respect from few political parties, but have gone ahead to fight elections from another. Someone who is a traitor cannot do good work, and should not be elected,” said Pawar.
The political rivalry between Pawar and late Sunil Dutt was well-known. It began when Dutt decided to be ‘neutral’ when Pawar, then a Congressman, was collecting signatures to support his prime ministerial candidature opposite P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1991.
In turn, Dutt did not get help from Pawar who was chief minister when his son Sanjay was arrested for possessing and destroying arms during the investigation into the 1993 serial bomb blasts case.
But on Monday, it looked like both, Pawar and Priya had left the rivalry behind and moved on. “NCP chief Sharad Pawar coming to show support for me is a great honour,” Priya said.
Pawar also adressed a rally for Congress candidate from Mumbai South, Milind Deora at N M Joshi Marg which is a Maharshtrian dominated area.