NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday sought to remind Prime Minister Narendra Modi that “unlike him” former premier Indira Gandhi never sought votes in the name of the “valour of the Army” but had given credit to the security personnel for winning a crucial war for the country.
Addressing a poll rally in Balapur in the east Maharashtra city, Pawar also accused the BJP-led Central and Maharashtra governments of “not being concerned” about the plight of farmers, whom he appealed to defeat the ruling party in the October 21 Assembly elections.
The veteran politician said that people across Maharashtra were pitching for “change of guard” in the state. “The Prime Minister of the country, Narendra Modi, campaigned on the issue of national security in the Lok Sabha polls (held earlier this year),” Pawar told the gathering while referring to the February 14 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were martyred.
The attack triggered an IAF air strike in Balakot in Pakistan. Referring to the episode, Pawar said, the Air Force had given a “befitting reply” to the perpetrators of the Pulwama attack, but PM Modi sought vote in the name of valour shown by the security forces.
“I remember India and Pakistan had warred (in 1971). Indira Gandhi was the prime minister then. Gandhi not only won the war (for India) and created history, but also changed the world’s geography. “The then Pakistan was divided into two parts, leading to creation of a new country called Bangladesh. But Gandhi never sought votes in the name of valour shown by the Army,” the former Defence minister said.
Pawar, a former Congressman, further said Gandhi was clear in her mind that the entire country had backed the Army during the war and hence she never politicised the issue but gave credit to the security personnel. “The Air Force’s action helped the country after Pulwama. But wherever Modi Saheb went (after the air strike), he said ‘we did it’. At one place, he had said that ‘ghus ke maroonga’ (will barge in and hit). “It is the Army or Air Force that takes the action and these people, sitting in Delhi, will say ‘ghus ke maroonga’,” Pawar said.
The former Union minister alleged that plight of the common people has increased on the BJP’s watch. He said the elections was an opportunity to take stock of the performance of the Devendra Fadnavis government.
Pawar noted that agrarian crisis had deepened in the state during the past five years. He alleged only 31 per cent farmers benefited from the state government’s farm loan waiver scheme. “Make them seat at home if they (ruling parties) come to seek your votes,” Pawar appealed.
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections held this summer, PM Modi had asked first-time voters to dedicate their vote to those who carried out the Balakot air strike.