Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and Union minister Sharad Pawar was all praise for his political opponent Shiv Sena at the 75th birthday celebration of former chief minister and Sena leader Manohar Joshi in the city on Friday.
Pawar used this platform to praise his political opponent Sena and express his gratitude for the party’s support after he was attacked by an angry protester in New Delhi.
While addressing the gathering, Pawar acknowledged that ‘cultured’ politicians of Maharashtra stand by each other despite their political differences.
His statement comes after the Sena had strongly condemned the attack on Pawar and Sena chief Bal Thackeray called Pawar the tallest leader in Maharashtra whose insult would not be tolerated by the Marathi manoos.
Earlier, Pawar’s daughter had also called on the Sena chief and thanked him for his support.
Returning this favour, Pawar said, “In 1966, in Maharashtra there was political space for an organisation, which would take up the cause of the Marathi manoos. Balasaheb (Thackeray) took up the cause. What was important was a common man took up the cause.”
Pawar, who was in the Congress then, said the party kept a close watch on Thackeray’s rally. “It was a big success. He attacked us with his fiery speeches and we replied back. But on a personal front, our equations remained different,” he added.
Thanking Thackeray, Pawar said, “In Maharashtra, politicians are different. We have
our own struggles and differences, but when it comes to supporting each other, our culture binds us.”
The public display of affection by Pawar and Thackeray may raise eyebrows in the Congress camp as both Congress and NCP are discussing possibilities of alliance for the upcoming civic polls, especially in Mumbai, where the Sena has a lot at stake. A section of the Congress leaders are wary that the NCP may go it alone in the polls and spoil Congress’ chances.
Praising Pawar, Sena leader Joshi said, “Pawar has been the state’s CM for four terms and he is not scared of anything or anyone. The Delhi incident is serious, but there’s a lot to learn from the manner in which Pawar reacted and appealed to his workers (to maintain peace).”