Facing accusations of defending Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the controversial Rafale deal, NCP chief Sharad Pawar Monday rejected the charge saying he would “never” do that.
“Some people have criticised me saying I supported him (Modi). I have not supported him. I did not (support Modi) and will never (do that),” Pawar was quoted as saying by PTI while addressing a party meeting in the Marathwada region.
Pawar’s alleged remarks last week during an interview with a Marathi news channel had led to NCP founder member Tariq Anwar and general secretary Munaf Hakim quitting from the party. Anwar said he left aggrieved by Pawar’s “clean chit” to PM Modi in the ongoing Rafale controversy.
Pawar’s comments were welcomed by the BJP and party president Amit Shah had thanked him for the same. However, the NCP had claimed that he was quoted out of context by the media.
Lok Sabha MP and Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule said her father was misquoted. “The thing which he (Pawar) is being quoted that he has given a clean chit to Narendra Modi is not true. Those who are saying so have either not heard or seen his interview or they are twisting it intentionally,” Sule was quoted as saying by ANI.
She said that people conveniently chose to ignore three things. “One, there should be a clarification about the price escalation of the jets. Two, he demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee to conduct an inquiry on Rafale. And, three, he talked about BJP’s double standards about JPC–they demanded for Bofors and now they are avoiding it for Rafale,” she said.
AICC general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Mallikarjun Kharge defended Pawar and said that the NCP chief did not support the Prime Minister in any manner.
Kharge told The Indian Express that the controversy will not affect the Congress’s ties with the NCP. “This is not a controversy. He told me that he too has demanded a JPC and questioned how the price of the fighter jet increased. He is questioning it in his own way… people have a way of speaking… ultimately the point is he is not supporting the government view or the PM…” Kharge said.
AICC communication department head Randeep Surjewala, too, said reports that Pawar has given a “clean chit” to the Prime Minister in the Rafale deal were “false and unfounded”. The NCP too said Pawar has not given a “clean chit to anybody”.