Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar attacked Bharatiya Janata Party leader Eknath Khadse saying the Opposition leader had hardly taken up real issues affecting the state in the Assembly. “The only issues discussed are about some builder or the other,’’ Pawar in a party meeting on Saturday.
He hinted that the Opposition was using exposes to further its motives. Khadse hit back saying the real corruption was in big land deals such as those for Lavasa, slum rehabilitation projects, and projects under the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.
As Leader of Opposition, he said, it was his role to expose them. “There is obvious support for this corruption from ruling politicians. That is probably why Pawar is feeling restless about my allegations,’’ Khadse said.
Pawar’s attack on Khadse should bring relief to Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who has been the BJP’s prime target.
Pawar also took on the warring Thackeray cousins, challenging them to contest elections and face the people instead of giving orders. Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, have never contested an election.
Pawar’s criticism follows Uddhav’s opposition to the removal of Maratha warrior king Shivaji’s mentor, Dadoji Konddeo’s statue from Pune’s Lal Mahal. Thackeray had sarcastically said, “If you want to remove Dadoji’s statue, replace it with that of Pawar and [MP Suresh] Kalmadi.’’
The Maratha leader also took potshots at the rivalry between BJP national president Nitin Gadkari and senior party leader Gopinath Munde saying this internal factionalism was testimony to the party’s waning future.
The NCP chief did not spare his own party leaders either. He taunted senior leaders like Chhagan Bhujbal saying there was a lack of organisational strength at district and taluka levels and this was favouring certain organisations and outfits within the party.
Bhujbal heads an organisation called the Samata Parishad that works for the Other Backward Classes (OBC). He has been ramping up his image as a national OBC leader, often taking a stance contradictory to that of his party.
Pawar also ticked off NCP ministers saying those in power in the state should not rely on help from Delhi to sort local issues. Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, state Home Minister R.R. Patil and Lok Sabha member Supriya Sule were among those present in the meeting.