Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Vasantdada Sugar Institute (VSI), an autonomous cane growers’ body, with its president, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, on Sunday. He will inaugurate the three-day-long International Conference on Sugar at the institute’s opening ceremony in Manjri near Pune.
Sources said Pawar met Modi in Delhi in October to invite him for the event.
This will be the PM’s second public function after his address to the nation on November 8, when he declared the demonitisation of high-value currency notes. The move drew criticism from the Opposition and the Shiv Sena, which shares power with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre and the states.
On Sunday morning, Modi will lay the foundation stone of the Mopa international airport in Goa. He will symbolically lay the foundation for an IT hub in Tuem, north Goa by addressing a function at the Shama Prasad Mukherjee stadium near Panjim.
Modi’s visit comes at the time when the NCP has escalated its criticism of the BJP-led government in Maharashtra, even as top leaders from both sides are working to ensure they continue to share a close relationship ahead of the polls.
This is the second time in two years that Modi is visiting an institution headed by Pawar. In February 2015, Modi visited Baramati, Pawar’s hometown, to inaugurate a Krishi Vigyan Kendra building. He also had lunch at Pawar’s home. The visit was noted by many in political circles.
With the PM in the city, the local BJP unit wanted him to talk to party workers to galvanise the cadre ahead of the civic body polls. However, the PM’s tight schedule and the code of conduct in place ahead of the November 19 legislative council elections did not permit this.