Mumbai: NCP chief Sharad Pawar Friday hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi without naming the latter by claiming he did not heed criticism by “every Tom, Dick and Harry”. Speaking at a poll rally in Gondia on Wednesday, Modi had said NCP leaders “were unable to sleep” as their “sleep was jailed in Delhi’s Tihar”.
While Modi gave no hints on who he was referring to, it is believed he meant jailed corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar who was arrested earlier this year. Modi, in a rally in Wardha on Monday, had criticised Pawar saying the latter was losing his grip on the NCP which was weakened by a “family feud”.
Addressing a poll rally at Shevgaon in Ahmednagar constituency Friday, Pawar said Modi used to “hurl abuses” at the Gandhi family earlier and now it was his turn. “I do not heed criticism by every Tom, Dick and Harry,” he said. “I am getting free publicity. Am I some ordinary man then? I come from the soil Shivaji Maharaj was born in.
Hence, I do not pay heed to criticism by such ‘lungyasungya’ (Marathi equivalent of the phrase Tom, Dick and Harry),” Pawar said here while canvassing for party candidate Sangram Jagtap. Pawar alleged the prime minister spent Rs 18 crore for performing ‘jal pujan’ of the Shivaji memorial in the Arabian sea, “but the government which is ruling in the name of Shivaji Maharaj did not lay even a single brick for the memorial”.
Pawar also charged that more money was spent on the publicity of the Statue of Unity (built in memory of Sardar Patel) in Gujarat than on its actual construction. He slammed Modi over the latter’s “92 foreign visits in 55 months” which the NCP chief claimed cost the exchequer around Rs 2021 crore.
Pawar criticised Modi on the issues of demonetisation, unemployment and failure in bringing back black money stashed abroad. On the Rafale fighter jet deal, Pawar, a former Defence minister, said its price per piece soared from Rs 350 crore during the UPA regime to Rs 1660 crore now. “There is something fishy in it,” he added.
Pawar further said the issue of release of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman from Pakistan, after he was caught by the neighbouring country’s forces following an aerial engagement on February 27, was also “politicised”. Abhinandan was released as per Geneva Conventions (Prisoners of War Status). But the issue was politicised, saying he could be brought back only due to the 56-inch chest leadership (of Modi),” Pawar said.
Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Modi had claimed at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh that only a person with a “56-inch chest” (implying a bold approach) could solve problems faced by the country. “Why haven’t you ensured release of Kulbhushan Jadhav with this 56-inch chest?” asked Pawar. Former Navy officer Jadhav is on death row in Pakistan after he was charged there with espionage.