Fighting defections in NCP, Sharad Pawar points finger at Devendra Fadnavis
Pawar said one of the ministers along with the chief minister have committed themselves towards poaching leaders from the opposition ranks by misusing probe agencies and state-run financial bodies ahead of the assembly polls.Updated: Jul 29, 2019 00:35 IST
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar alleged on Sunday the Maharashtra government was using investigative agencies to pressurise state opposition leaders to switch loyalties, prompting chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to deny the charges and ask the Maratha strongman to “introspect” ahead of the assembly elections due later this year.
Speaking in Pune on Sunday, Pawar alleged that Fadnavis was involved in calling up people to enable defections. “The chief minister and another minister have literally committed themselves to this work. They are making phone calls to leaders of other parties and asking them to join,” said Pawar.
The NCP chief added agencies such as Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate and Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) were being misused.
Hours later, Fadnavis said many NCP leaders were keen to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “Sharad Pawar should introspect on why his people are not ready to stay with the NCP.”
The CM said the BJP did not need to pressure anybody to join. “We are beyond running behind anyone. Now people [leaders] run behind the BJP. We will take care of those who are good and work for the people,” he said.
The row comes days after a number of NCP leaders quit the party to either join the BJP or its ally, the Shiv Sena. Last week, former NCP Mumbai chief Sachin Ahir joined the Sena while NCP women’s unit head Chitra Wagh quit the party and is likely to join the BJP along with another NCP legislator from Ahmednagar, Vaibhav Pichad.
Pawar claimed Wagh was under pressure to leave the party after a probe by the ACB against her husband. “Wagh met me two days ago and said she is under tremendous pressure as there are some criminal cases against her husband. In addition to that, an ACB inquiry has been initiated against their cooperative institutions she run,” said Pawar.
State elections are due this October-November. The BJP-Sena alliance, which won 41 of the 48 LS seats in the state in general elections, is facing the Congress-NCP alliance to return to power.