MOUNTING AN offensive against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, NCP president and former Union Defence Minister Sharad Pawar said on Wednesday that the “ghost of Rafale will ensure the burial of the Modi regime”.
Pawar was speaking at the first joint public rally of the Opposition’s grand alliance in Maharashtra at Marathwada’s Nanded. Besides Congress and NCP leaders, Peasants and Workers Party leader Jayant Patil and People’s Republican Party’s Jogendra Kawade were present for the show of strength.
Pawar continued to take a dig at Modi over his absence during the all-party security meeting convened in the aftermath of the killings of 40 CRPF personnel in Pulwama.
“This is a national crisis. The convention is that all of us (political parties) set aside differences and come together for the nation’s cause. So, two days after the attack when the Centre convened an all-party meeting, we all rushed to Delhi. But the Prime Minister was not present. We later found out that he was visiting Yavatmal and Dhule for a public rally,” said Pawar, reiterating an allegation he had raised on Tuesday as well.
In a clear indication that the Modi government’s “failures” on the economic and job creation front will be top on the Opposition’s agenda for the Lok Sabha polls, Pawar fired barbs at the Centre over demonetisation and the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax. He also accused the Centre of interfering with the functioning of premier institutions, namely the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bureau of Investigation, among others.
With the Nanded rally being first of the two joint rallies meant to set the stage for Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Pawar to sound the poll bugle on March 1, the Congress, which was the organiser of Wednesday’s rally, left no stone unturned to ensure that the gathering was well attended. In fact, sources said that the show of strength was the main reason for the rally to be held in the Congress stronghold of Nanded, where former CM and state party president Ashok Chavan has sizeable clout.
While Rahul is scheduled to visit Maharashtra on March 1, the NCP will organise another joint rally in Beed (also Marathwada) on February 23.
Chavan, meanwhile, fired potshots at Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday over the alliance with BJP. “Sabko pata chal gaya ki tiger lachar hain (Everyone now knows that the tiger is helpless),” said Chavan, with tiger being in reference to Sena’s party symbol.
Accusing BJP and Shiv Sena — who he described were two sides of the same coin — of fanning caste tensions for political gains, Chavan said that “time has come to throw out the Modi government at the Centre and the Fadnavis government in the state”.