Days after a controversy over reports in the media about his “secret” meeting with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that he keeps meeting chief ministers of various states in the country in the capacity of the Union Agriculture Minister and sees nothing wrong in doing so.
Last week Mr. Pawar, whose party governs Maharashtra with the Congress and is a member of the PM’s coalition government at the Centre, had rejected the reports as false.
“As the Union Agriculture Minister, I have the responsibility of increasing the country’s food production and the implementation of the Food Security Act and for that purpose; I have to visit various states. I visit West Bengal and meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Similarly, I meet Naveen Patnaik in Odisha; Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh and Narendra Modi when I go to Ahmedabad,” Mr Pawar said.
“However, suddenly one day newspapers published a news about my meeting with Modi….What is wrong in meeting the chief ministers? Have I met anyone from Pakistan or China? What is wrong in it? He is a public representative and to meet him is part of my work. A hype is being created out of nothing,” he added.
Mr. Pawar made these remarks at the inauguration of the Rs. 25 crore International Indoor Stadium of the Thane Municipal Corporation at Dhokali while he was advising its members to restrict political rivalry to elections. “Once the elections get over, you should think in a wider perspective and work towards the development of the city. You should keep politics away while doing civic work,” he told them.
On January 31, Mr. Pawar had slammed as “completely mischievous” and “baseless” media reports about his meeting with the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in New Delhi.
“News of my meeting with Narendra Modi in New Delhi on January 17 appeared in a newspaper. (It) is completely mischievous, baseless and false,” the Agriculture Minister had posted on micro-blogging site Twitter.
His tweets followed a front page report in a Marathi newspaper that said he was understood to have secretly met Mr. Modi in New Delhi on that day.