Founder of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Sharad Pawar, on Monday hit back at nephew Ajit Pawar over the latter's mention of the 1978 incident involving the former's actions against then Maharashtra Chief Minister Vasantdada Patil. Sharad Pawar clarified that it was not a rebellion but a decision made through mutual consultation.
In 1978, Sharad Pawar, along with 40 MLAs, exited the government, leading to the downfall of the Patil administration. On July 18 of that year, the NCP supremo was sworn in as the chief minister, becoming the youngest person to hold the position at the age of 38.
What did Ajit Pawar say?
During a speech in Baramati on Sunday, Ajit Pawar, who had recently split from the NCP and joined the Eknath Shinde government, took a dig at Sharad Pawar by suggesting that he took a stand after crossing the age of 60, unlike others who did so at the age of 38. Additionally, the deputy chief minister asserted that Yashwantrao Chavan had opposed Sharad Pawar's move, highlighting that a leader like Vasantdada Patil was pushed aside.
"Vasantdada was a good leader but he was kept aside and the experiment with Janata Party was done. So it is not as if nobody in the past took the kind of step that I took. I took the decision after crossing 60, so everyone needs to understand my stand," Ajit Pawar had further said.
It was a mutual decision, not rebellion: Pawar on 1978 move
Sharad Pawar, hitting back at his nephew, said, "In our times, there was no rebellion. We used to sit and take decisions. So there was no such thing (rebellion). It was a mutual decision so there was no question of anyone complaining."
Asked about the absence of a prime ministerial candidate in the opposition bloc INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance), Sharad Pawar pointed out that even in the 1977 Lok Sabha polls, held post-Emergency, no specific individual was put forward as the prime ministerial candidate.
"After the polls, Moraraji Desai was made PM. There are no consequences if a face is not projected. If people are in the mood for change, they will take a call to bring about that change," the veteran politician asserted.
When questioned about a poll survey favoring the Maha Vikas Aghadi over the ruling alliance in the 2024 LS polls, he emphasised that surveys serve as mere indications, and one should refrain from drawing premature conclusions based on such exercises.
Sharad Pawar on VBA's inclusion in INDIA bloc
In response to inquiries about Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi chief Prakash Ambedkar's statement regarding the possibility of contesting all 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra if an alliance with the INDIA bloc doesn't materialise, Sharad Pawar asserted that every political group has the autonomy to make its own decisions.
He mentioned that during a meeting in Delhi with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, he advised taking Ambedkar along. Additionally, Sharad Pawar noted that Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray had also reached out to Prakash Ambedkar.
"I welcome the move by Ambedkar and our colleagues to work together," the NCP founder asserted.
Asked about issues related to ethanol, Pawar said "this year something is lacking in the Centre's ethanol policy".
Vehicles are increasing in the country and crude oil is being imported, while countries like America and Brazil are mixing ethanol and fuel on a large scale, he pointed out.
"To do something similar, we encouraged the production of ethanol in the last few years. This year, there is something lacking in the ethanol policy of the Centre. The Centre has solved some issues, but some big aspects remain unsolved. I have written about these to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and (Union minister) Amit Shah. We expect a positive outcome," Sharad Pawar said.
(With inputs from PTI)