NCP president Sharad Pawar accused the Narendra Modi government of “misusing” power to target political rivals like P Chidambaram and Mamata Banerjee, as he offered to play the role of a unifier for the opposition parties to take on the BJP in the 2019 polls.
Chidambaram, a senior Congress leader and former finance minister, is being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the CBI in the Aircel-Maxis and INX media deal cases, respectively.
“Efforts are being made by BJP government to falsely implicate P Chidambaram by misusing power. Similarly, those associated with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee are being raided,” Pawar said in Vashi in neighbouring Navi Mumbai.
He charged that 40 Congress MLAs were also raided during the Karnataka elections.
“However, the people of Karnataka taught them (BJP) a lesson. The government at Centre is misusing power and time has come to replace the government,” he said.
He was addressing a meeting of leaders of opposition parties such as those representing the Congress and Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) who are supporting NCP candidate Najeeb Mulla for the June 25 biennial elections to Konkan Graduates constituency of the Maharashtra legislative council.
Offering to play the role of a unifier, Pawar said all opposition parties should come together to take on the BJP in the next year’s Lok Sabha polls against the backdrop of the BJP’s recent defeat “in a string of by polls” in the country.
Referring to a CBI case against Tata Trusts’ R Venkataramanan, Pawar said that “corporates too are being pressurised to make them toe the line of the ruling party”.
The CBI had registered a case against AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, non-executive director R Venkataramanan and other officials for allegedly trying to manipulate government policies through corrupt means to get international licence.
Pawar said the defeat of the BJP in bypolls showed that “sentiments of the common people are changing (against the BJP)”.
Referring to keenly-contested Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll in Maharashtra, Pawar said the BJP would have lost had the Congress and the NCP supported the candidate of Hitendra Thakur’s Bahujan Vikas Agadhi (BVA).
The BJP retained the Palghar seat in the keen contest in which it had fielded former Congress member Rajendra Gavit against Shiv Sena nominee Shrinivas Wanaga, the son of sitting BJP MP late Chintaman Wanaga.
Referring to the NCP’s victory in the Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha bypoll, Pawar alleged that directives for disbursal of financial compensation were given by administration on public holidays on the eve of voting on May 28 and banks were asked to remain open.
“This was stopped because of the NCP’s objection. Such directives is a good example of winning elections at any cost. Is this a clean and transparent election?. NCP is planning to take a legal recourse over this,” he said.
Pawar said the NCP didn’t want the Election Commission to be a “puppet” in the hands of the ruling party.
“The NCP wants election process improved otherwise will take a legal recourse,” he added.
At the meeting, Pawar paid rich tributes to Chhatrapati Shivaji on the occasion of the 344th anniversary of his coronation as king.
“Shivaji Maharaj belonged to a humble background. He united all the common people and raised an army which included people from all castes and religions,” Pawar said.