Rejecting Raj Thackeray’s allegation that NCP plays ”caste politics”, party chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said the MNS president never takes a consistent stand on any issue and remains in ”hibernation” for three to four months a year which is his ”speciality”.
Speaking at a rally at Shivaji Park in Mumbai on Saturday, Raj Thackeray had criticised Sharad Pawar, accusing him of ”playing the caste card from time to time and dividing society.” ”On the contrary, NCP brings together people from all the castes. Raj Thackeray should have studied the history of NCP (before making comments),” Pawar told reporters in Kolhapur.
Replying to a question on the MNS chief’s speech, Pawar took a swipe saying, ”Raj Thackeray stays underground for three to four months and suddenly surfaces to give a lecture. This is his speciality. I don’t know what he does for months”.
Pawar said the MNS chief talks about many things but lacks a consistent stand. ”He spoke about NCP and caste politics. The fact is that Chhagan Bhujbal, and Madhukarrao Pichad among others had worked as the Leader of the House of NCP. Everybody knows which communities they belong to,” the former Union minister said. Pawar said that his nephew and Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar became the Leader of the House after completing 30 years in the Assembly.
”Ajit Pawar decided to accept this position after many leaders in NCP felt that he deserved it since he has completed 30 years in the legislature,” the NCP chief added.
When asked about Raj Thackeray, whose party is known for the aggressive sons-of-soil brand of politics, praising Uttar Pradesh, Pawar said, “As I said earlier, he can talk about anything. I don’t know what he saw in UP”.
”What happened in UP recently? Election results were different because of different reasons. But in Lakhimpur Kheri, where farmers were killed… farmers were protesting on the borders of UP, but no one came to solve their issues. Many things happened under the Yogi government and if he (Raj Thackeray) is praising that government then I don’t want to say anything. Under (Chief Minister) Uddhav Thackeray’s guidance this won’t happen,” Pawar added. NCP and Congress are constituents of the Shiv Sena-led MVA government.
When asked if Raj Thackeray was trying to align his party’s stand with the BJP ahead of civic elections in Maharastra, Pawar referred to the lacklustre performance of the MNS in the past elections. “Maharashtra knows what was his (Raj Thackeray’s) stand earlier and now. Currently, his stand seems to support Narendra Modi but we cannot say what will be his next move. ”I can’t tell how effective MNS will be in municipal elections. But the figures from the last elections show that they (MNS) had won a limited number of seats and that number can be counted on the fingers of two hands. This kind of support he is getting, but I don’t know how will MNS fare in future,” Pawar added. Once a supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Raj Thackeray later became his bitter critic often finding ”flaws” in the Gujarat model of development touted by Modi when he was the chief minister of that state.