After an assurance by the state government, that NCP chief Sharad Pawar would be invited to a function on December 24 where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of the Pune Metro rail project, Mayor Prashant Jagtap has cancelled the function scheduled to be held the day before, where Pawar would have been the chief guest.
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However, Jagtap came under criticism from the Congress for changing his stance after making a public announcement about the function. “The function… has been cancelled as the state government has conveyed that it would be inviting NCP chief Sharad Pawar as a special guest for the function and giving him due respect,” said Jagtap on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the mayor had declared that a separate function would be held, where Pawar “would lay the foundation stone”. The mayor claimed that after his announcement about a separate function, the state government has now accepted the demand to invite the NCP chief for the function as a special guest.
The NCP, which holds power in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) as well as the neighbouring Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), has been insisting that Pawar should be invited for the function.
Guardian minister Girish Bapat had stalled the discussion, saying the issue would be decided by the Prime Minister’s Office.
However, Congress’ Pune unit chief Ramesh Bagawe said the NCP might have changed its stand, but the Congress would still not participate in the function on December 24. “The Congress will go ahead with the foundation stone laying ceremony of Pune Metro rail by former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan at Swargate on December 23. We wanted to get it done by NCP chief Sharad Pawar, so we had supported the Mayor when it was declared that a separate function would be held,” he said.
Bagawe said the ceremony, with the Prime Minister, has been organised in view of the forthcoming civic elections, and claimed that the Congress had contributed equally in getting the Metro project approved, by pushing for it during the tenures of the Congress-led government at the state and the Centre.