‘Operation Lotus’ will not be successful in Maharashtra; backing BJP in 2014 was political ploy: Sharad PawarUpdated: Jul 14, 2020 01:55 IST
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, who is considered the architect of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, said that the “Bharatiya Janata Party-sponsored Operation Lotus” will not be successful in the state and that the Uddhav Thackeray-government will successfully complete its five-year term.
Pawar termed ‘Operation Lotus’ a gross misuse of power and said that it is a means to weaken and destabilise a democratically elected government with the “use of central powers”.
For the first time, Pawar also clarified on the NCP’s support to the BJP in 2014 and said it was a “political ploy”. He admitted that the step was taken to keep the Sena and BJP away. The clarification came in the third and the final part of his interview to Shiv Sena parliamentarian Sanjay Raut, for the latter’s mouthpiece Saamana. The interview was published on Monday.
Pawar said that Operation Lotus will not have any impact in Maharashtra, when Raut, who is the executive editor of Saamana, asked him if the Maharashtra government, too, would collapse. “Some people from their [BJP] party have been saying this. First they said it’ll collapse in three months, then in six, and now some are betting on September, while others on October. I am confident that the Uddhav Thackeray government will complete its full term. Operation Lotus or anything else will have no impact here,” he said, adding that the parties can even contest the next Assembly elections together, if all goes well.
The statement comes amid the political crisis in Rajasthan, where there are speculations that the Congress government under chief minister Ashok Gehlot may collapse.
Speaking on his party’s outside support to BJP in 2014 to form the state government, the Maratha strongman said it was done to keep BJP in check by not allowing Sena to form a government with the national party.
“I sincerely wished that Sena and BJP would not come together. But when I realised that Sena will go with the BJP, I made a statement that we will give them outside support. The reason behind it was that the BJP was in power in the Centre and with a CM in Maharashtra, they will not allow Sena or other parties to function in a democratic political setup. They would have sooner or later betrayed everyone and therefore this was a political ploy,” Pawar clarified.
Interestingly, Raut did not quiz Pawar on his nephew and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s move to back former CM Devendra Fadnavis to form the 80-hour government, amid talks between the three parties in November last year.
But Pawar dismissed claims of him and Fadnavis holding talks to form a government in the state.
“Some BJP leaders spoke to my colleagues and me about the government formation, saying they didn’t want to go with the Shiv Sena. They said since I had good relations with the prime minister, I should intervene and give my approval. Hence, to avoid any confusion and perception about myself and my party, I met the PM at Parliament House and told him the NCP will not go with the BJP. If possible, we will form government with the Shiv Sena or sit in the Opposition, I told the PM,” Pawar said.
He revealed that he told Raut, his Rajya Sabha colleague, about his intention about the meeting.
Pawar also targeted Fadnavis and said that he did not think the latter had any say in the decision-making process at the national level. He added that people came to know who Fadnavis was only after he became the CM.
When asked about the Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi being made to vacate her bungalow, Pawar said it was “low level politics”.
“I don’t think this is cultured behaviour. Power should be used with humility. Such things happen when the arrogance of power gets into the head. Priyanka is the daughter of a former PM, who was assassinated. You may have political differences. But there is no wisdom in using power to harass political opponents. This is not vendetta politics but low-level politics,” he said.
Pawar also expressed that the Opposition parties have the capability to provide an alternative to the nation.
“Earlier this year, there were some meetings and the Opposition parties discussed some policies. But then the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country. Once this crisis is over, it will again gain momentum and I will take the initiative. Providing an alternative [for BJP] is the need of the hour,” he said.