A DAY after the Rashtrapati Bhavan “clarified” that a first-row seat had been allotted to NCP chief Sharad Pawar at the swearing-in ceremony of the Narendra Modi government last week, Pawar on Thursday said he was allotted a fifth-row seat. “I was allotted a seat in the fifth row. I inquired about it with my secretary even today… He had gone to the Rashtrapati Bhavan twice to find out my seating place. On both occasions, my secretary was told that a fifth-row seat had been reserved for me,” Pawar said in Pimpri-Chinchwad.
Interacting with the media after addressing a meeting of NCP leaders and workers, Pawar said, “When twice my secretary was told that I was given a fifth-row seat, he again went to inquire… This time, I was allotted a front seat but this was again in the fifth row. The card given for me had ‘V’ written on it,” he said.
Stating that the matter has ended for him, Pawar said, “Someone has erred in this… either my office or their office. But the issue is not so big, it is all over.”
Ashok Malik, press secretary to the President of India, on Wednesday tweeted saying that a seat in the “V section”, referring to the VVIP guests, had been reserved for Pawar. “Even within V, he had a labelled first-row seat. Someone in his office may have confused V (for VVIP) for the Roman V (five),” Malik said in the tweet.
Pawar had skipped the swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where top politicians like Sonia Gandhi, L K Advani, Uddhav Thackeray, Sushma Swaraj were seen seated in the first row.
The NCP, which had called it an insult, said on Thursday that the matter had ended with the party chief’s clarification. “Our party chief has said that the matter is over for him and so it is for the party,” said NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik.
BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye said the Rashtrapati Bhavan has clarified on the issue and therefore there was no need for further discussion on it.
Meanwhile, addressing party leaders and workers in Bhosari area, Pawar said the party will give priority to new faces in the upcoming assembly elections. “The Lok Sabha election has shown that voters are preferring change and therefore we need to look for new blood, new faces…,” he said.
Asking party workers and leaders to leave the recent poll results behind, Pawar said, “…We should look forward at putting our best efforts in the assembly elections. We should contest the polls unitedly and aggressively.”
Even though, the NCP chief did not mention the recent defeat of Parth Pawar, son of Ajit Pawar, from Maval seat, he praised actor Amol Kolhe for defeating three-time MP Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil from Shirur seat. The NCP won only four seats in Maharashtra.
Pimpri-Chinchwad NCP chief Sanjoy Waghere said the party chief has asked the entire unit to put in their might for winning all the three seats of Bhosari, Pimpri and Chinchwad. “He said the party was looking for new faces in this ensuing elections,” he said.
Waghere said Parth will not contest the assembly election, but is now looking after the party in Maval area.