Mumbai: Sharad Pawar finds his voice

Mumbai: Instead of telling how many new factories have come up, PM Modi should state how many factories have closed down due to economic slowdown, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar said on Thursday, revitalising his political campaign which was under a cloud in the face of constant desertions to other parties.

Addressing meetings of party workers, the former Union minister also spoke about "Marathi manoos" who had been hustled out of the erstwhile textile district of Mumbai.

Harping on the slowdown, the NCP leader also said the dynamics of investment have gone awry. He also harped on farmer suicides, lower procurement prices, etc.

The provocation for the tirade came earlier in the day when PM Modi singled out NCP leader Sharad Pawar for criticism.

Commenting in the context of the momentous decision on Kashmir, PM Modi has said it was the wish of 130 crore Indians that Article 370 be scrapped. But even though the country was united over the decision on Kashmir, Congress and NCP leaders had not cooperated, he said.

"I can understand the confusion of the Congress. But Sharad Pawar? I feel bad when an experienced leader like him makes wrong statements for votes. He said he likes the neighbouring country.

It seems he finds them better than us, but the world knows where the terror factories are located," PM Modi said. The NCP immediately took umbrage and accused the Prime Minister of twisting Sharad Pawar's recent comments on Pakistan.

"Modi should prove that Pawar had praised the rulers of Pakistan. A video of what Pawar said is available.

We will quit politics if the allegations are correct or else the PM must apologise for misleading the country," national spokesperson for NCP Nawab Malik said in a sharp retort.

Pawar had merely said in his speech that people of Pakistan are not anti-India, but the rulers and the army have an animosity towards this country," Malik pointed out.

He further said that it is actually PM Modi who is fond of the rulers of Pakistan, as he had invited the former PM Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in in 2014, and had paid a surprise visit to greet the latter on his birthday in Lahore.

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