Updated: April 7, 2022 10:18:30 am
Sparking a buzz in political circles, Sharad Pawar met Narendra Modi at the Prime Minister’s Office in Parliament for about 25 minutes on Wednesday with the NCP chief later saying that he primarily conveyed his concerns over the Enforcement Directorate’s action against Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut.
During the meeting, Pawar said, he also complained about the delay by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari in approving the 12 names recommended by the State Cabinet for nomination to the Legislative Council.
“On what basis was action taken against Sanjay Raut? This is injustice. What was the provocation? Just because he is making some statements and criticisms does not mean action should be taken against him. What was the need?” Pawar told reporters.
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“It is our duty to bring to the Prime Minister’s notice the injustice being done to a journalist and a senior Parliamentarian… I just brought this matter to his notice. If central agencies are taking such steps, then the Centre would have to take responsibility for it,” he said.
Responding to a question, Pawar said he did not note the Prime Minister’s reaction on the issue.
On Tuesday, the ED attached assets worth more than Rs 115 crore linked to three persons in Mumbai, including Raut’s wife, in a money-laundering investigation.
Buzz over timing
Asked about the future of the MVA government in Maharashtra, where his party is part of the ruling coalition with Shiv Sena and Congress, Pawar said it would last the full term and win the next election in 2024. “I have been hearing such questions about the future of MVA for the past two-and-a-half years. Nothing will happen. Next election also, the MVA will return to power,” he said.
Incidentally, hours before Pawar’s meeting with the Prime Minister, the CBI took custody of former Maharashtra home minister and NCP leader Anil Deshmukh from the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai and placed him under arrest in connection with corruption allegations raised by former police chief Param Bir Singh.
Asked about the position of UPA chairperson, which is currently held by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Pawar said he was not interested in the post as the largest party in the Opposition was the natural choice. He also sought to downplay Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s presence at a dinner held at his Delhi residence on Tuesday evening. “I had invited MLAs from Maharashtra, who are in Delhi for a training workshop in Parliament, over dinner. Several of them had issues related to roads in their constituencies, so I requested Gadkari to come over to hear their grievances,” the NCP chief said.
Referring to his complaint against the Governor, Pawar said: “The Governor… has kept pending the issue of nominating 12 members to the Legislative Council. I drew the Prime Minister’s attention to these issues…he promised to look into them.”
Pawar met Modi along with NCP MP P P Mohammad Faizal, who raised issues related to his constituency Lakshadweep.
In Maharashtra, Pawar’s meeting triggered mixed reactions with BJP leader and former minister Sudhir Mungantiwar pointing out that “despite the ED action against NCP leaders, there is no bitterness between BJP and NCP”. “The BJP’s relations with NCP have not soured like they have with Shiv Sena,” he said.
NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who was in Shirdi, denied any knowledge of the Delhi meeting. “The country’s Prime Minister and the leader of a national party can meet to discuss development issues… I don’t know what they discussed,” he said.
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