Sharad Pawar To Align With BJP Ahead Of 2024 Lok Sabha Elections? NCP Chief Responds
Asked about his recent hush-hush meeting with Maharashtra Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, who has aligned with the BJP, Sharad Pawar said it was about a family function.
Aurangabad: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Wednesday asserted he will not align with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and instead work towards bringing about a change in 2024 when the Lok Sabha polls will be held as he sought to downplay his last week's meeting with politically estranged nephew Ajit Pawar. He sought to nix speculation that the Congress and the Shiv Sena (UBT) were working on a 'Plan B' to contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections without his faction of the NCP.
The Congress, the Shiv Sena (UBT) and the NCP (Sharad Pawar faction) are constituents of the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).
"The news of a 'Plan B' (by Congress and Sena-UBT to together contest polls) is wrong. No such plan is being made. There is a need for change in 2024 and therefore were are preparing for it, " Sharad Pawar told reporters in Aurangabad ahead of his public rally in Maharashtra's Beed district on Thursday.
Asked about his hush-hush meeting with Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who has aligned with the BJP, in Pune last week, the senior Pawar said, "He is my family member. If any ceremony is planned in our family, naturally I will be consulted at that time."
Seeking to clear his stand on the much-talked-about meeting with his nephew, which has caused unease among his allies Congress and the Shiv Sena (UBT), the NCP patriarch asserted, "I will not go with the BJP. To stop unrest among people, we need to bring a change in 2024. We will do every possible to bring this change."
The meeting between the NCP founder and Ajit Pawar on August 12 at businessman Atul Chordiya's residence in Pune had sent political circles abuzz with speculation. It also did not go down well with the Congress and the Shiv Sena group led by former CM Uddhav Thackeray.
Apparently referring to the split in the NCP after Ajit Pawar and eight other party MLAs joined the Eknath Shinde-led government in early July, the former Union minister said, "Those who have left me (in the past) didn't get election tickets again."
Asked about the Ajit Pawar group still using his photos, the former Union minister said, "We are going to court over this issue."
Sharad Pawar indicated his faction is in danger of losing the party symbol and noted he has sent his reply to the Election Commission over the issue.
"I have replied to the notice sent by the Election Commission. Looking at the decision that came up in regards to the Shiv Sena (whose poll symbol was given to rebel faction led by Eknath Shinde), our party symbol (clock) seems to be in danger. But I don't care for symbol as I have contested elections on many symbols like bullock pair, cow and calf, and won," he said.
The rebel NCP faction led by Ajit Pawar has approached the EC and sought allotment of the party symbol clock. The NCP founder said Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not think the situation in Manipur was important enough to visit the violence-hit state.
"The Modi government has been a mute spectator to the goings on in the (Manipur) region. The northeast region is important and sensitive. More attention needs to be paid to the areas bordering China," the former defence minister said.
The NCP chief claimed that 'things happening and being orchestrated in northeast are extremely dangerous for the country.'
"Manipur is an example," he added.
"PM Modi spoke outside Parliament and gave a three-minute video message on day one of the Monsoon session, and also briefly mentioned Manipur in his lengthy reply to the debate on the no-confidence motion," the NCP chief said.
"Modi should go to the northeast and give confidence to the people, but he did not think it important. Instead, he preferred to address election meetings in Madhya Pradesh," Sharad Pawar said.
He also said injustice has been done to his party colleague and former minister Nawab Malik, who is out on interim bail in a money laundering case, in which he was arrested in February 2022.
"I have spoken to him (Malik). Injustice has been done to him as he was kept in jail for a long time for no reason. Political issues will take their time. It's time for him to be with family," he said.