Pune: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar has claimed Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted the BJP and the NCP to come together in Maharashtra to form government in 2019, but he told the PM that “it was not possible”.
Reacting to Pawar’s comments, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, whose party shares power with the NCP and Congress in Maharashtra, on Thursday claimed that after the 2019 Assembly polls, the BJP was desperate for power and ready to hold anyone’s hand for it.
Raut also said they were aware of who was talking to whom and therefore, the BJP did not succeed in its “attempt” to form government in the state.
After the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections, the Shiv Sena parted ways with long-term ally BJP over the issue of sharing the chief ministerial post. The Uddhav Thackeray-led party then forged an alliance with the NCP and Congress to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state.
On Wednesday, during an event organised by Marathi daily ‘Loksatta’, Pawar was asked if during discussions after the 2019 state polls, he had told Modi and Union minister Amit Shah that the NCP and BJP could come together if the latter replaced Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister.
To this, Pawar said it is true he and PM Modi had meetings.
“It was his wish that we (NCP and BJP) come together. However, I went to his (PM’s) office and told him it was not possible. I told him that we do not want to keep him in the dark. Our stand is different,” said Pawar.
Questioned about the PM’s reaction to his response, Pawar said Modi asked him to “think over it”.
Pawar said after the Maharashtra Assembly elections, for almost 90 days, the government was not formed.
With this proposal, PM Modi might have thought that by doing this (aligning with the NCP ), a stable government could be formed in the state, he said.
When asked about his views that the BJP, which targeted the NCP over various alleged scams during elections campaigns had sought help from the same party, Pawar said he would not say that the BJP sought help from the NCP.
He also said that after the Maharashtra Assembly elections, during several meetings between the Congress and NCP, the bitterness between leaders of the two parties had increased.
“Perhaps, the BJP leadership thought that an advantage can be taken of this situation, and that is what they tried to explore,” he said.
Pawar also recalled his one statement after the 2019 state elections — that if Fadnavis was short of some MLAs to form government, the NCP would think about it seriously — “further widened the gap between the Shiv Sena and BJP”.
After this, the Shiv Sena was sure that BJP leader Fandavis will make a move.
Notably, before the MVA came to power, Fadnavis was sworn in as the CM in a hush hush early morning ceremony at the Raj Bhavan, with NCP’s Ajit Pawar as hit deputy. However, Fadnavis quit as the CM four days later.
Meanwhile, reacting to Pawar’s comments, Shiv Sena’s spokesperson Sanjay Raut claimed that in 2019, the BJP was “desperate” for power and therefore, it was ready to “hold anyone’s hand”.
If Sharad Pawar is saying this, it must be true because Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged Pawar to stake a claim for power in Maharashtra, Raut told reporters in Nashik.
There was transparency among us (MVA allies). We were aware who was talking to whom and therefore, the BJP did not succeed in its attempt to form government in Maharashtra,” he said.
There was transparency even in Ajit Pawar joining hands with the BJP to form the government (before the MVA came to power) and therefore, Ajit Pawar later returned (to the NCP fold), Raut said.