Mumbai: Shiv Sena (UBT) spokesperson Sanjay Raut slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday for targeting Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar during his recent public meeting in Shirdi. During his speech, Modi had asked what contribution Pawar had made to agriculture. In response, Raut, whose party is an ally of the NCP, questioned why the PM had conferred the highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, on him if Pawar had not made any contribution to agriculture.
Raut pointed out that everyone knew the role Pawar had played in boosting agriculture during his tenure as the Union Agriculture Minister. He also questioned why Modi had visited Pawar's home turf, Baramati, some years ago on his birthday and praised him if Pawar was a non-performer. Raut quoted Modi as having said that Pawar had held him by his forefinger and brought him into politics. Incidentally, Pawar's daughter and Member of Parliament, Supriya Sule, had also asked why the Padma Vibhushan was given to her father by Modi if he had made no contribution to the nation.
Modi's decision to give the highest civilian award to Pawar had come under criticism within BJP circles earlier. However, no one chose to speak out openly against the controversial decision in the interest of organisational discipline. The award issue has not become a major embarrassment for the BJP now. "It was a totally wrong decision. What moral right do we have to attack Pawar when we have given him such a big award?" asked a senior BJP leader.