NCP chief Sharad Pawar has preferred to maintain silence over the Shiv Sena and a Congress leader targeting him for what they say was a bid to “politicise” the drought in Maharashtra but his party has reacted, calling it a ploy to deflect attention. His daughter and MP Supriya Sule has also come out in his defence and said Pawar is often targeted by detractors for gaining publicity.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said those attacking Pawar are making desperate attempts to deflect attention from their failure to tackle the drought situation.
“The Congressman who criticised Pawar is himself responsible for keeping Marathwada thirsty. He had opposed the release of water from dams in Ahmednagar to Marathwada which had badly hit farmers,” Mallick said adding that as for the Shiv Sena, it “keeps playing politics from Bandra and has no inkling of what is happening at the ground level. What do they know about farm and farmers?”
Pawar’s office said he does not want to react to such criticism.
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Supriya Sule said, “People know how to get into news…They target my father for no reason and spread falsehoods to help them come into public focus. Everybody knows what my father has done as agriculture minister. I need not repeat it…”
On Monday, Congress leader Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil, without directly naming the Maratha strongman, had said, “As Union Agriculture Minister, he (Pawar) failed to do anything for Maharashtra. He failed to improve the condition of farmers.”
Vikhe-Patil alleged that he had focussed only on Baramati and its people.
On Tuesday, the Shiv Sena, in an editorial in Sena mouthpiece endorsed the views of Vikhe-Patil and said Pawar had done little for farmers when he was agriculture minister in the UPA.
“Pawar says nobody should do politics on the severe drought in Marathwada. But Pawar should himself clarify as to who is playing politics over drought,” the Sena said and added, “The government does not want politics over drought…Pawar should live up to what he says….”
The Sena alleged that Pawar, who is touring Marathwada, had failed to make similar tours when he was agriculture minister. “He never toured… nor enquired about the condition of farmers,” the Sena alleged.
The Sena blamed the previous Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra for not taking effective measures against the drought making the situation worse today.
“If effective measures had been taken by the then government to cap problems arising out of the drought conditions, the problem would not have multiplied as it has today,” the Sena said.
Blaming the NCP, the Sena said the party had held the ministries of finance, energy and irrigation for 15 years.
“Pawar himself was the Union Agriculture Minister, but did little to uplift the farming community,” the Sena said.
The Sena, however, said Pawar being an experienced leader, the state government should not hesitate in taking his advice in tackling the drought.