Mumbai: In one fell stroke Prime Minister Narendra Modi exposed the faultline in the newly-minted Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) by getting NCP's Sharad Pawar and Sushilkumar Shinde of the Congress to share the dais with him at an event in Pune on Tuesday.
Even as NCP and Congress MPs continued their chorus against Modi in Parliament on the Manipur issue, senior leaders of their parties rubbed shoulders with the Prime Minister at an event where he was given the Lokmanya Tilak National Award. The award is given annually to persons of eminence for their “extraordinary contribution” to the development of the nation.
PM's silence over Manipur sexual violence issue
Pawar and Shinde, who is a Dalit, in a way, effectively weakened the INDIA alliance by sharing the stage with Modi. The raging controversy over Modi's refusal to speak in Parliament on the vexed Manipur sexual violence issue appeared to be a non-issue with the two senior leaders who were seen cheering the Prime Minister when he was felicitated by the Lokmanya Tilak Memorial Committee and a citation was presented to him.
In fact, Pune witnessed a bizarre a situation with Congress workers led by the city president of the party, Mohan Joshi, chanting slogans asking Modi to “Go Back” while Shinde sat near the Prime Minister with a smile on his face. Joshi and several others were bundled into police vans and taken away from the protest venue.
The president of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee Nana Patole too expressed his reservations about the Pune event.
Only the other day Modi, while addressing a public meeting at Bhopal, had accused the NCP of being steeped in a Rs70,000-crore scam in an apparent reference to the mega irrigation scam allegedly involving deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar of the rebel NCP, who was also seen near Modi on the dais on Tuesday.
Incidentally, the grand event was held even as 17 workers were crushed to death in an accident at Shahpur in Thane district early on Tuesday morning.
Raut slams Pawar in 'Saamna'
Constituents of the INDIA alliance tried their best to dissuade both Pawar and Shinde from attending the function but their objections were brushed aside.
Sanjay Raut, editor of the “Saamna”, the mouthpiece of the Shiv Sena (UBT), criticised Pawar for sharing the stage with Modi. Raut appeared shocked that Pawar was at the same event as Modi “despite the fact” that the Prime Minister was responsible for the rebellion in the NCP led by Ajit Pawar.
The people of Maharashtra were simply appalled that Pawar would share a stage with Modi who had levelled serious allegations of corruption against the NCP, Raut claimed and said Pawar Sr could have cleared doubts (about his political bona fides) by boycotting the Pune programme.
“The country has been fighting against the dictatorship of Modi and with that aim the INDIA alliance was formed. Sharad Pawar is an important part of that alliance,” said the Shiv Sena (UBT) leader.
“Felicitating a politician who is against all democratic norms with an award named after Bal Gangadhar Tilak is an injustice to Tilak’s struggle for independence,” Raut said. He also noted that Sharad Pawar’s supporters were resentful of the fact that when the Opposition in Parliament was opposing the “undemocratic” Delhi ordinance brought in by the Modi government, Pawar was seen at a public function with the Prime Minister.
Raut noted that by accepting an award from someone he had called “corrupt”, Modi showed that corruption was not an issue for him. The Prime Minister talked about corruption only to instil fear in the minds of politicians and break their parties, he said.
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