The BJP and the NCP got into a war of words on Saturday, as the ruling party slammed NCP chief Sharad Pawar, accusing him of bending before the Congress, and the NCP hit back, daring the saffron party to field its top leaders from Baramati, the home turf of the former Union minister.
Addressing the media in Mumbai, Union minister Piyush Goyal said, “Pawar, who had parted ways with the Congress, is now bending his knees to have a pre-election alliance with the Congress.”
On Pawar considering to contest the forthcoming polls from Madha, Goyal said, “He is welcome to contest from any seat in Maharashtra. It will give BJP an opportunity to defeat him.”
At an event in Pune, BJP president Amit Shah and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis asked party workers to ensure the party’s victory in the Lok Sabha elections from Baramati constituency.
Urging party members to ensure that the BJP wins 45 of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, Shah, without taking names, said, “No seat should be represented for 15 years by those who are corrupt. No seat should be won by people who have taken the country backwards, or who side with infiltrators.”
Hitting back at the BJP, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “BJP president Amit Shah and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis declared that they will win 45 of 48 seats in Maharashtra. And both declared Baramati will be among those winning seats. Now, the question to both from the NCP is: have they decided who will be their candidate from Baramati? Is BJP going to field Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Baramati? Or will it be Shah or Fadnavis? First let them decide who is their candidate…”
Responding to Pawar’s initiative to get opposition parties on a common platform, Goyal, who was in Mumbai with Minorities Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to launch the BJP’s ‘Bharat Ke Maan Ki Baat, Modi Ke Saath’ project to engage the common public in formulating the party’s poll manifesto, said, “Everybody knows what Sharad Pawar had said when he left the party (Congress, in 1999). But today, he is bending his knees to have an alliance with the Congress.”
Goyal was referring to Pawar’s differences with then Congress president Sonia Gandhi, which had led to his expulsion from the party. Pawar, who had raised objections to Sonia’s foreign origin, formed the NCP after leaving the Congress.
Exuding confidence that the Shiv Sena and BJP will team up for the polls, Goyal said, “We have already made our offer for pre-election alliance with Shiv Sena.”
The Union minister ruled out the possibility of holding Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly elections together. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in favour of holding Lok Sabha and Assembly elections together all over country, provided there is an all-party consensus,” he said while underlining the factor that simultaneous elections cannot be applied selectively in states.