Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has thrown an open challenge to NCP chief Sharad Pawar to declare his equations with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party both at the Centre and in the state.
In an exclusive interview to The Indian Express, Chavan said, “I would dare NCP to come out in public and make its stand clear on BJP. Whether it is the Centre or the state, NCP cannot been seen partly supporting and also opposing the BJP government.” He added, “Today, BJP is in a strong position because NCP gave its unconditional support to it, even before the election results were declared, which is surprising.”
Chavan said, “Had the NCP categorically opposed the BJP, it would have been vulnerable.” He argued, “Had the NCP stood its ground as an Opposition party from the very beginning, as has been done by the Congress, Shiv Sena would have made hard bargaining and always kept the BJP on tenterhooks. Unfortunately, NCP’s unconditional support pushed the Shiv Sena closer to the BJP. Sena knows if it stretches the differences beyond a point, the BJP can always seek NCP as an alternative partner.”
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The NCP’s support declared at the beginning worked to bring Shiv Sena and BJP on a common platform, said the former CM.
Soon after the election results last year, Pawar had said his party’s support to the BJP was in the larger interest of political stability in Maharashtra. “Thereafter, I have never heard anybody from the NCP denying or taking any other position vis-a-vis BJP government in Maharashtra,” said Chavan.
According to him, this sends a “very confusing signal to the people”. “When you have an alliance with the NCP, which is on one hand giving unsolicited support to Devendra Fadnavis government and playing opposition party on the other,” he said.
The former chief minister had often invited flak from NCP leaders when they were in coalition in Maharashtra. As the opposition leader, Chavan is in the forefront raising voices against the Shiv Sena-BJP government in state.
Acknowledging that the Congress and the NCP appeared to be working together during the monsoon session in Maharashtra, Chavan said, “The NCP’s decision to extend issue-based support to the governments at the centre and in the state cannot be justifiable. If one is playing the role of opposition, it should be clearly stated in public.”