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Saturday, Dec 07, 2019

At meeting with PM Modi amid Maharashtra logjam, Sharad Pawar makes 2 requests

Pawar, who like other top politicians of Maharashtra has toured the state over the past few weeks, said the returning monsoon had devastated almost every standing crop in most parts of the state.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2019 18:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said he had sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervention to help the state’s distressed farmers at their meeting.
Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said he had sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervention to help the state’s distressed farmers at their meeting.(HT Photo)
         

At his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi that triggered buzz about his party’s next move in Maharashtra, Nationalist Congress Party boss Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said he had sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervention to help the state’s distressed farmers at their meeting.

Pawar, who like other top politicians of Maharashtra has toured the state over the past few weeks, said the returning monsoon had devastated almost every standing crop in most parts of the state. “I brought to notice this alarming situation to the kind attention of Hon. PM,” Pawar tweeted after his meeting.

News agency PTI said the meeting, which comes amid a logjam in Maharashtra, lasted 50 minutes. Formal meetings with the prime minister to hand over appeals such as the one that Pawar was carrying are usually wrapped up in 20 minutes or less.

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Pawar hasn’t spoken on his meeting with PM Modi yet but did put out on Twitter two letters that he had handed over to him.

One was, as had been widely reported, to seek the prime minister’s intervention to help farmers hit by the heavy unseasonal rains. The second was to invite PM Modi to a conference on the sugar industry at Pune’s Vasantdada Sugar Institute that Pawar heads. The three-day conference is scheduled to begin on 31 January next year.

Sharad Pawar’s meeting comes amid efforts by the Shiv Sena to form a government in alliance with Sharad Pawar’s NCP and the Congress.

The Sena, which contested last month’s state elections in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party, walked out of the partnership over the BJP’s refusal to let a Shiv Sena leader occupy the chief minister’s chair.

The Sena has 64 MLAs (including 8 Independents) in the 288-member assembly and is hoping to cross the majority mark of 145 with support of 54 NCP lawmakers and 44 Congress MLAs.

Shiv Sena leaders such as Sanjay Raut insist that the alliance discussions are on track and expects the picture on the coalition to become clear by tomorrow and the new government, ready to take charge within the next week or so.

But eyebrows were raised when Sharad Pawar, after meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday, appeared to indicate that the NCP-Congress combine was not in any great hurry to seal the pact.

The next day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi heaped praises on Sharad Pawar’s NCP for maintaining decorum in parliament and not trooping into the Well of the House. PM Modi did not name Pawar in his speech but followed up on his praise in Parliament, tagging Sharad Pawar in a tweet where he repeated this point.

Sharad Pawar, a four-time Maharashtra chief minister, on Wednesday did not indicate if PM Modi had accepted his invitation to join him at the conference next year.

Pawar’s invitation letter did remind PM Modi about a previous edition of the conference at his Vasantdada Sugar Institute that he had attended in 2016. It was here that PM Modi had credited Pawar for helping him in his early years as Gujarat chief minister.

PM Modi had then described Sharad Pawar’s completing 50 years as a lawmaker a “legacy in Indian politics”.

“I have no hesitation in accepting that Pawar held my hand and taught me to walk in my early days in Gujarat,” PM Modi had then said.

Pawar had responded in kind, telling delegates at the conference and the television cameras, how PM Modi was always at work. “This shows his total commitment to the cause of the country,” he had said.