Speaking at a campaign rally on Thursday, MNS chief had said that Pawar had conveyed to the BJP leaders that the NCP will also break ties with Congress if they break their alliance with Sena. On September 26, NCP had announced it’s decision to break the alliance within an hour of BJP making the decision of the split with Sena public.
Addressing the media in Pune on Friday, Pawar denied this charge.
“I played no role whatsoever in Sena-BJP breakup. I must thank Raj Thackeray for portraying me as a leader who can influence the decisions of a rival national party. We announced our decision to break the alliance with Congress on the same day because there wasn’t much time left. With only 24 hours to go for the nomination filing deadline, we had to announce our decision so that we could file nominations for all assembly constituencies,” said Pawar.
Pawar said he did not anticipate that the NCP would be forced to take the extreme step, as Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi and several other senior Congress leaders were “extremely positive” about continuing the Cong-NCP alliance in Maharashtra.
“When I met Sonia Gandhi, she was extremely positive about the continuation of the alliance in the state. Several other senior leaders also shared her feelings. We also had several rounds of the meetings with the national leaders and the state leaders.
“However, while these talks were on, we learnt that the Congress had announced a list of 110 candidates which also contained names of constituencies which we had demanded for NCP. This showed their intentions. So we did not have any other option than to fight alone,” said Pawar. He said that NCP had prepared to contest only 130-135 seats and hence had to do a lot of running around at the eleventh hour to finalise candidates in all constituencies.
Pawar said the political situation has changed in four months and the BJP would not be able to repeat the success of Lok Sabha polls in the assembly polls in Maharashtra. He said that the ‘Modi factor’ will also have limited success.
“The scenario at the time of the Lok Sabha polls was completely different that what we have today. The Lok Sabha polls was kind of a referendum on two personalities — on one side BJP’s Narendra Modi and on the other side Congress’ Rahul Gandhi. People chose Modi. Now situation has changed on two counts. One, voters in the state think differently about the Lok Sabha polls and Vidhan Sabha polls.
“If they voted for a certain party to give a stable government in the center doesn’t mean that they would choose the same party in the state also. Two, the Modi-wave has started to subside as was visible in the bypolls held in UP and Rajasthan. It can’t be a co-incident that BJP lost eight out of nine seats in UP . Voters also realise that even if BJP comes to power in the state Narendra Modi wont run the government. All this makes me feel that we would fare much better in assembly polls,” said Pawar.
He denied a possibility of a post-poll alliance with BJP.
“It’s baseless to say that. We are working towards a majority for NCP so that we can give a stable government to the state and we are hopeful of getting that. So there’s no talk of any post poll-alliance,” he said.
Although Pawar said that the party would not project Ajit Pawar as a chief ministerial candidate, he strongly defended him on the charges of corruption in irrigation projects.
“There’s no irrigation scam in Maharashtra. It’s a false notion created by our opponents to corner us during polls by making it an election issue. Some people call it a Rs 70,000 crore scam. They say although huge amounts were spent, the irrigation capacity in the state did not increase. These people should tell us if the irrigation capacity did not increase then from where all these new dams came.
“Yes, the budgets of these projects increased with passage of time, but it’s bound to happen as due to delay cost of these projects went up. It happens everywhere. In Gujarat, the budget of Sardar Dam was Rs 6,000 crore when the project began, today the budget has been revised to Rs 36,000 crore. Why nobody calls it a scam?” said Pawar.
Taking potshots at Narendra Modi over the hype surrounding his US visit, Pawar said that although former prime minister Manmohan Singh shared a great rapport with American politicians and authorities, but he would never market it to generate publicity.
“As an Indian I definitely feel delighted when my Prime Minister is treated with respect in a foreign country. However, if feel that when he was in USA,Modi focused as much on (publicity through) media as on the dialogue with the US Govt. US government and politicians also respected Manmohan Singh a lot but he never marketed it. He used his influence to get things done for India. Modi, it seemed, kept an eye on how his activities are being seen back home in India,” said Pawar.