While Sena (UBT), Congress assert MVA unity, Ajit Pawar raps Nana Patole
Mumbai: The lengthy meeting between Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar at the latter’s Mumbai residence has sparked a buzz in Maharashtra’s political circles. Following the meeting Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said that while each party may take differing views over an issue, all three Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) parties (NCP, Congress and Uddhav Thackeray’s Sena faction) ought to publicly “speak with one mind”.
Uddhav Thackeray’s 90-minute meeting with Sharad Pawar at the latter’s ‘Silver Oak’ residence Tuesday evening came amid fresh speculation of a rift and coordination woes within the Opposition MVA. Uddhav Thackeray called upon Sharad Pawar accompanied by Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut, who is well known for his ties to the NCP chief.
“Although each party may have different opinions, we are of the opinion that all three parties should speak with one mind as the MVA. Accordingly, it was decided (at the meeting with Uddhav Thackeray) that (top) leaders of all three parties should participate in joint programmes,” said Sharad Pawar while speaking in Pune.
The NCP chief’s own statements of late – be it on the Savarkar issue or on the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe against the Gautam Adani group – have all been in sharp contrast with the stance taken by the Congress, with the potential to trigger rift within the MVA opposition.
Arguing that there were “no differences” within the MVA alliance, Sanjay Raut said that the talks between Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar had been extremely constructive and that the future course of the MVA alliance was discussed at the meeting.
Raut remarked, “There is no difference of opinion between us. If somebody is spreading this misperception, then they are trying to mislead. A number of issues pertaining to political developments were discussed at the meeting. The future course of the MVA’s direction was discussed. We particularly talked about how the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was blackmailing the opposition.”
Sanjay Raut said it was decided that whatever be the pressure mounted by the BJP through central agencies, the MVA would not succumb to it and it would stay united and jointly contest future elections.
Echoing Sanjay Raut, the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) said that the BJP was deliberately spreading misinformation about alleged disunity between the MVA partners as it was wary of the growing strength of the opposition.
While the ruling Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena faction and the BJP have questioned the absence of Congress leaders at the Thackeray-Pawar meet, MPCC president Nana Patole questioned what was the harm in MVA leaders meeting each other separately.
“There is no need to read anything deep into it (Thackeray-Pawar meeting) …the BJP cannot stomach the MVA’s successes and hence is deliberately trying to mislead people by creating the perception of a divided opposition,” remarked MPCC chief Nana Patole.
However, notwithstanding Nana Patole’s show of solidarity, the MPCC chief has had a stormy relationship not just with his MVA allies, particularly Sharad Pawar and Sanjay Raut, but with senior Congressman like Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan as well.
Recently, Nana Patole had accused the NCP of contesting the upcoming Market Committee (APMC) polls in collusion with the BJP, hinting that Sharad Pawar’s party frequently changed colours when it suited them.
Despite Nana Patole and Sanjay Raut’s assertions that “everything was fine” with the MVA alliance, NCP leader Ajit Pawar rapped MPCC chief Nana Patole today for making needlessly controversial statements with the potential to create rifts within the MVA.
“I fail to understand why Nana Patole keeps making such statements (NCP contesting Market Committee polls with the BJP) with a potential to create divisions within our alliance. Instead of going to the media, he ought to discuss such matters with me or (NCP State president) Jayant Patil or (Sena UBT leaders) Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray. This (making statements adverse to oppositional unity) must stop,” remarked Ajit Pawar, in a sharp rejoinder to Nana Patole.
Nana Patole’s blunt talk has often left his MVA allies and elements within his own Congress party, embarrassed. Last year, at the Congress’ ‘Chintan Shivir’ in Udaipur in Rajasthan, Nana Patole had submitted complaints to the party high command pertaining to the NCP’s “consistent betrayal” of the Congress and its alleged efforts to undermine the party in Maharashtra.