At a time when Opposition bloc INDIA is putting up a united front and planning their next big meeting in Mumbai, a meeting in Pune last week between NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his nephew and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pwar has created consternation in the opposition camp.
Notwithstanding Sharad Pawar’s clarification that he has no plans to join hands with the BJP though some “well-wishers” are trying to persuade him to do so, rumours mills are grinding fast creating an impression that there is definitely something more than what meets an ordinary eye.
Well-placed sources said that Ajit Pawar has been given a brief by a Union minister that he should persuade his uncle to desert INDIA so that challenge from the opposition to the Modi-led BJP could be nipped in the bud itself.
Even if senior Pawar is not willing to cross over, the uncle-nephew meetings would result in confusion which would weaken INDIA in the eyes of people and allies in the MVA would be at loggerheads, sources.
While the Shiv Sena (UBT), a key member of the Opposition alliance in Maharashtra, is not amused by the Pawars' meetings.
Even though Pawar has asserted that he has no plans to join hands with the BJP, his ally is making no bones about its disapproval with the meetings.
Shiv Sena UBT Questions Uncle-Nephew Meets
Sanjay Raut, Rajya Sabha MP and Shiv Sena (UBT) leader, responded to Pawar's remark that there is nothing wrong in him meeting his nephew.
“Sharad Pawar is saying Ajit Pawar is his nephew and can meet him. Why are their followers fighting on the streets then?” Raut asked. In what appeared to be a swipe at the veteran leader, he said, “We don't put up appearances by sitting with another party's leaders as our workers fight.”
The Team Thackeray leader described Pawar as the “Bhishma Pitamaha” of Maharashtra politics and said he “should not do anything that creates doubt in the minds of people”.
Raut said they had spoken to Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole over the Pawars' meeting. Raut's remarks come after his party's mouthpiece Saamana said it is "amusing" to see Ajit Pawar frequently meeting Pawar and the latter not avoiding it.
“There is a hunch that BJP's 'Chanakya' is trying to create some confusion by sending Ajit to meet senior Pawar. However, such meetings tarnish the image of Sharad Pawar and it is not good,” it said.