Satara: Political discourse plummeted to a new depth with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) calling Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar an alleged “bhondu baba” who indulges in “black magic”, here on Friday.
This hitherto “unknown face” of the 82-year-old veteran politician Pawar was “unmasked” by the state BJP President Chandrashekhar Bawankule during a media interaction, creating political ripples.
“Sharad Pawar is like a ‘bhondu baba’ (fake godman). He resorts to ‘black magic’ on anyone who comes in his sphere of influence. In fact, his entire party also does this,” claimed Bawankule.
Justifying his bizarre claim, the state BJP chief referred to the party’s bete-noire, Shiv Sena (UBT) President Uddhav Thackeray as a prime example who fell victim to Pawar’s purported “mumbo-jumbo machinations” in 2019.
“When we were in the process of forming the government then, Thackeray came in contact with him (Pawar) and was ensnared by Pawar. So he shut the door on us, left us and never returned. Whoever is trapped by Pawar meets the same fate,” pointed out Bawankule with a glint and a grin.
In the first reaction from the NCP, the party MLA Nilesh D. Lanke termed Bawankule’s utterances as the outcome of a “deranged mind”.
NCP National Spokesperson Clyde Crasto slammed Bawankule saying he has “lost his senses” and power has gone to his head.
“He has a regressive mind and therefore, he believes in things like black magic. Look like he knows how it works and also practices it. The world has become modern with progress, but he is still living in the past and talking like this to gain cheap publicity,” said Crasto.
On certain earlier occasions, Bawankule was noted for making controversial statements intended to provoke the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies of NCP, Sena (UBT) and Congress.
Two months ago, while touring the Pawar clan’s six-decade old bastion of Baramati, Bawankule threatened to do a ‘visarjan’ (immersion) of the NCP-Congress in the state in the 2024 assembly elections.
At one time, he warned the NCP supremo – whom Prime Minister Narendra Modi had once described as his ‘guru’ – not to dream of challenging the Prime Minister who is performing very well and popular all over the country.
The ostensible provocation was speculation of Pawar for the post of a joint Opposition candidate for Prime Minister or Chairman of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) but the Maratha strongman himself scotched both the rumours.
A couple of months ago, Bawankule had sounded a warning to Thackeray, advising him to “keep shut” and stop criticising the new government of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and BJP’s Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, which came to power after the MVA government collapsed in June.
“You got one opportunity (as Chief Minister) and you frittered it away. What you couldn’t manage to do in two-and-half-years, the new government has achieved in barely 50-60 days. They are making quick decisions and the people of the state are happy. So you keep shut now,” he growled at Thackeray.