Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday has sparked speculation in political circles in Maharashtra, coming as it does at a time when the BJP’s ally, the Shiv Sena, is attacking it at every turn.
The official version is Pawar met the PM to seek loan waiver for farmers, a solution to farmer suicides, and official language status for Marathi. But given Pawar’s reputation as someone who always keeps his options open, the meeting has sparked all kinds conjecture. Soon after the Assembly elections of 2014, the NCP had offered the BJP unsolicited support to form a government. In fact, this move by the NCP had led to a lot of bad blood between the BJP and the Sena, which was forced to back the Devendra Fadnavis government on not so favourable terms.
Pawar’s meeting with the PM comes at a time when the Sena and the BJP are pulling back from a bitter fight for primacy in the Mumbai civic elections. The Sena has also been siding with the opposition in the Assembly in pressuring the Fadnavis government over the issue of farmers’ distress.
Wednesday’s meeting also takes place against the backdrop of the BJP’s victory in Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, which may impact political alignments at the national level.