Sharad Pawar’s visit to the Cyclone Nisarga-hit Raigad and Ratnagiri district has pitted the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against each other. State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil criticised Pawar’s visit saying that it was too late, as it comes days after his party sent relief aid to the villagers.
However, Pawar protégé and Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad hit back and said, “If you do not want to listen to what people say, at least think about what your conscience says.’’ Awhad reminded that Pawar, during his five decade political career, has been always on the move to help people whenever natural calamities or major incidents take place in Maharashtra or in the country.
Awhad said Pawar had reached out to the drought-hit villages in 1972. Later, he visited Killari after a devastating earthquake erupted in 1993. As a chief minister, he played a major role in restoring law and order and ensuring normalcy after serial bomb blasts took place in March 1993. “Recognising his expertise, former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee had appointed him as the chief of the disaster management cell,’’ he noted.
Pawar, despite floods, visited Kolhapur last year and also reached out to the farmers whose produce was affected by hailstorm and untimely rainfall. “So criticising Pawar for reaching out to the cyclone affected people late exposes immaturity,’’ he taunted Patil.
Earlier, Patil had claimed that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar had paid a visit to the cyclone-ravaged villages after BJP had dispatched aid to the villagers and Leader of Opposition Pravin Darekar and local BJP legislators reached there.
Meanwhile, Pawar today visited villages in Raigad district and argued that the central government and the state government will have to provide assistance by formulating a relief policy. He admitted that a relief package without the central government’s aid is not a workable proposition.
After supervising the damage to horticulture, Pawar said it will be lost for at least a decade. He assured the villagers that he will personally speak to the central government for providing more assistance after its team visits the area.