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MNS hints at NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s role in opposition to Raj Thackeray’s Ayodhya visit

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena on Tuesday shared photos of Pawar and his daughter Supriya Sule with BJP MP Brij Bhushan Singh, who had opposed Thackeray’s proposed trip to Ayodhya.

Written by Vallabh Ozarkar | Mumbai |
Updated: May 24, 2022 3:52:54 pm
Sharad Pawar and Supriya Sule with Brij Bhushan Singh.

Amid speculations of the BJP’s involvement in the opposition to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray’s now-cancelled Ayodhya trip, the MNS on Tuesday hinted that it was, instead, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar and his daughter and MP Supriya Sule who was behind it.

The MNS on Tuesday morning shared photographs of Pawar and Sule with Brij Bhushan Singh, the BJP MP from Kaiserganj in Uttar Pradesh who had opposed Raj Thackeray’s proposed visit to Ayodhya on June 5 and warned that he will not be allowed to enter the city till he tenders a public apology “for humiliating north Indians”.

Singh had also organised several meetings with seers in Uttar Pradesh to show his strength and indicate that citizens and seers in the region were against Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya.

The photos shared by the MNS were taken during a 2018 wrestling championship in Maharashtra.

“Through these pictures, Maharashtra and the country have understood who is behind Brij Bhushan Singh and who has been providing logistics or support to him to oppose the visit of Raj Saheb. The trip was, in fact, not political… but what has happened there has set a wrong precedent. If any south Indian leader is opposed like this then all leaders of south India come together for support, but no such thing happens in Maharashtra. Instead, all political parties are coming together against the MNS,” Gajanan Kale, MNS spokesperson, said. He added that Thackeray always takes a stand for leaders in the state, but Pawar did not do so.

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The photos shared by the MNS were those taken during a 2018 wrestling championship in Maharashtra. The party used the pictures to hint that the NCP chief was close with Singh and NCP could have had a hand in Singh’s opposition to Thackeray’s visit.

The NCP, however, refuted the allegations and said Thackeray cancelled the tour after getting scared and was now trying to hide using photos of the national wrestling team and state wrestling team presidents at a wrestling match.

Kuch photo accha bhi hote hain aur kuch photo sacche bhi hote hain… (some photos are good and some photos reveal the truth),” tweeted MNS leader Sachin More. Sharing the picture, the MNS spokesperson said, “The alliance between the two wrestlers is clearly seen….”

In response, NCP spokesperson Clyde Crasto tweeted, “Kuch log darte hain aur us dar ko choopane ke liye photo may bahana dhonde te hain….(some people are scared and to hide their fright, they hide behind photos).”

Speaking to The Indian Express, Crasto said, “MNS is trying to deflect attention towards its on failure to ensure that the visit takes place. Raj Thackeray developed cold feet… The picture that MNS has tweeted is from a wrestling event held in Maval taluka of Pune district. It was put on social media by NCP MP Supriya Sule. Our party chief headed the Maharashtra Wrestling Federation when the picture was taken in 2018 while Brij Bhushan Singh was the president of the National Wrestling Federation.”

Deshpande told a TV news channel that the relation between the two leaders is clearly seen from the picture. On Sunday, Raj Thackeray had said, “One MP wakes up and challenges the CM… Is it possible ? The opposition to my visit to Ayodhya has a Maharashtra connection… the fuel for it was provided from Maharashtra,” he had said.

Meanwhile, Supriya Sule’s office said, “The MP keeps meeting other party leaders at public events and functions. The pictures taken there are uploaded on social media regularly.”

NCP leader Umesh Patil said, “Our party chief will never resort to low level of politics. It is our rivals who are adept at this… He has nothing to do with the growing opposition to Raj Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya.”

Thackeray had recently cancelled the proposed tour on medical grounds and had later stated that the opposition to his trip was a trap for him and MNS supporters which was why he cancelled it.

The BJP, which had been supporting Thackeray’s pro-Hindutva stand, had tried to clarify that the stand taken by Singh was in his personal capacity and there was no BJP role in it. However, during Thackeray’s Pune rally on Sunday, he had said that an MP cannot challenge the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on his own and hinted that support was extended to him from Maharashtra. Thackeray had also stated that it was a trap laid for him and MNS workers so that they can be put behind bars just before the upcoming civic elections.

While Raj Thackeray did not mention who exactly from the state was “plotting” against his trip, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut and Mumbai Congress Leader Sachin Sawant, along with other leaders, had alleged that it was the BJP which misused Raj Thackeray for their benefit and that Thackeray himself had claimed so.

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