Rejected Modi’s offer to ‘work together’: PawarUpdated: Dec 03, 2019 00:19 IST
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made “an offer to work together”, which he rejected. In an interview to Marathi TV channel ABP Majha, on Monday in New Delhi, Pawar also revealed details of how the government formation drama in the state played out for more than a month and finally ended with the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) — a coalition of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress — swearing-in Uddhav Thackeray as its CM.
Pawar said he was aware that his nephew, Ajit, had been talking to the BJP, but was “shocked” when the latter got himself sworn-in as deputy chief minister along with Devendra Fadnavis.
Pawar met Modi two days before the Fadnavis-Ajit swearing-in on November 23. “After our discussion on the unseasonal rain, Modi said he would be glad if we could work together. He pointed out that our opinions on issues of development, industries often converged. I told him we have good personal equations and that will not change. I also told him on national issues, I will always support him. But I cannot join him because my party’s ideology is different and we had taken a different path.’’
“There is no truth in reports that I had been offered the post of President, but yes, the PM had said Supriya Sule is a good parliamentarian and that he would be glad to have her in the government,’’ said Pawar.
He also admitted that he knew Ajit was talking to Fadnavis, but he was not aware of his plans to take oath when he did, because by that time talks with Sena had taken a serious turn.
“I knew that Fadnavis had given the offer of an alliance to Ajit. I had told Ajit to see what BJP was talking about. Later, I got busy and then my talks with Sena got serious. I also got a clear signal from Sena MP Sanjay Raut that they were willing to join us,’’ Pawar said. He said he realised that if Sena was willing to leave BJP then there could be a new direction to politics in Maharashtra.
The NCP chief said the day before Fadnavis and Ajit took oath, the NCP and Congress held a meeting where there were disagreements between him and Congress, which led to him walking out.
“Irked with that disagreement and the ongoing discussion with Congress, Ajit took this call that night. He was told oath has to be taken immediately, if this deal had to be done. Later, Ajit told me he made a mistake,’’ said Pawar.
He also said that he came to know of the developments around 6am on Saturday and that he was shocked. He first made a phone call to Thackeray and told him that he did not support this and they should take a joint press conference and convey this clearly.
Pawar, however, indicated that his nephew would be forgiven and pointed out that a large section within the NCP looks up to Ajit’s leadership after him. “He is always available for them [party workers and leaders] when I am busy in Delhi. This is whether we are in power or not. They [party MLAs] don’t want any harsh action against him. Ajit has, however, said he does not want to be included in the cabinet immediately and hence only two of our senior leaders were inducted in the cabinet at first go,” he said.
Pawar also said that Thackeray was not keen on being CM and would have liked to appoint someone from his party, Shiv Sena, to keep his word to his late father and party founder, Bal Thackeray.
“My clear opinion was that if this three-party government has to be run, then one person whom all three parties find acceptable and will follow is Thackeray. He told me it’s not his wish. But I told him to accept it as my order. He has to run the government, there will be no remote control. This government will have only one head and that’s Thackeray,’’ said Pawar.
In the interview, Pawar also raised reservations about the bullet train project, saying it needs to be reviewed and whether such a heavy cost can been borne at this stage. About the Aarey Metro car shed controversy, Pawar said while Metro-3 should not be abandoned, a city like Mumbai can ill-afford the environment costs.
He also said he was satisfied that he could ultimately defeat the money power of the BJP and while he was not worried about Modi, he had been cautioned by some about BJP chief Amit Shah’s functioning style and hence had to tread carefully.
“There had been arrogance of power and ego in Fadnavis, especially in his last campaign speeches, which people did not like. He had no special place in Maharashtra politics before he became CM for five years. His party is single largest in Maharashtra because of Modi and not him. He should know this,’’ he said.
Commenting on the interview, BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said, “How can one comment on a meeting between Narendra Modi and Sharad Pawar, two national leaders? However, it is not fair of Pawar to make such revelations because the Parliament is in session and the PM cannot talk about this. This was not discussed in our core committee meetings.”
Meanwhile, on senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijaya Singh’s demand for another probe into Justice Loya’s death, Pawar said “A lot of people in Maharashtra want an in-depth investigation into the case. Only if required, we will reinvestigate the matter”.