Union finance minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s two-day visit to Baramati and his praise of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar at a public event has sparked off speculations in political circles.
Jaitley was in Baramati on Friday and Saturday for functions organised by Pawar’s educational institute, Vidya Pratishtan.
Jaitley said the Baramati model of development should be replicated in other parts of the country. “Baramati has been a learning experience for me….Our country could be really developed if we have 100 towns developed like Baramati,”Jaitley said, while inaugurating an engineering college building.
Jaitley also stayed at Pawar’s residence. Pawar had organised a dinner for him in which all members of his family including former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar participated.
No state BJP leader except Pune district guardian minister Girish Bapat was present in Baramati with Jaitley.
The camaraderie between the two leaders surprised many in state’s political circles as two days ago Pawar had criticised the BJP-led central and state governments for their failure on various fronts including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reaction to Dadri lynching incident. He had also said that his party won’t bail out the Fadnavis government in the state if Shiv Sena pulls out. In fact, analysts believe that his statement led to BJP and the Shiv Sena to mend fences.
Significantly, PM Modi and BJP leaders in the state had criticised Pawar during the Lok Sabha and assembly elections. Modi had even appealed voters in Baramati to end the ‘uncle-nephew’s reign’ referring to senior Pawar and former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar. However, Modi himself had visited Baramati in February this year and publicly acknowledged that he always sought advice from Pawar.
He had also said that Pawar was the only minister in Congress-led UPA government with whom he had good rapport during the former’s tenure as Gujarat chief minister. When asked about Jaitley’s visit, senior state BJP leaders chose not to comment. According to sources in the party, Pune BJP leaders had expressed their unhappiness when they came to know about Jaitley’s proposed visit to Baramati. They had even pointed out that the NCP has launched agitation against the BJP government in the state.
Significantly, the NCP has been helping the BJP led government in the Rajya Sabha where the opposition has more numbers than the ruling side.