Announced Support to BJP After 2014 Assembly Polls to Wean Away Uddhav, Says Sharad Pawar

1 month ago

Last Updated: April 22, 2024, 23:33 IST

ist Congress Party (SP) chief Sharad Pawar. (PTI File)

ist Congress Party (SP) chief Sharad Pawar. (PTI File)

The BJP had won 122 seats and was well short of the 144-halfway mark in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly after the 2014 polls

ist Congress Party (SP) chief Sharad Pawar on Monday said he announced support for the BJP after the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly polls to wean away the Uddhav Thackeray-led (undivided) Shiv Sena from the saffron alliance, a task in which he claimed he succeeded.

Speaking to the Marathi news channel ABP Majha in Amravati, Pawar said the exercise aimed to keep BJP away from power.

Asked about the intrigue surrounding his overtures to the BJP at the time, Pawar said. “I never had any plan to go with the BJP. I wanted to keep it away from power after the 2014 assembly polls. I only announced extending NCP support to the BJP but did not do so in reality.”

“The plan was to steadily separate Shiv Sena from the BJP. I succeeded in it. Uddhav Thackeray and I are campaigning together in the state now. It is not in the interest of the country to give power in the hands of the BJP,” Pawar added.

The BJP had won 122 seats and was well short of the 144-halfway mark in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly after the 2014 polls. The BJP and the undivided Shiv Sena, allies for several decades, had contested the 2014 polls separately.

Amid a deadlock over government formation, Pawar at the time had said the NCP would give unconditional support to the BJP. The Shiv Sena joined the Devendra Fadnavis government a month later but the two allies continued to spar over a host of issues.

The Shiv Sena and BJP parted ways after the 2019 assembly polls, despite the alliance having a majority in the House, over the issue of sharing the chief ministerial tenure equally.

President’s Rule was imposed in Maharashtra after no party could form a government, before it was swiftly removed in November 2019 and Fadnavis and NCP’s Ajit Pawar took oath as chief minister and deputy CM, respectively.

The government lasted for just 80 hours after which Thackeray joined hands with the Sharad Pawar-led NCP and the Congress to head the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

Asked about the short-lived Fadnavis-Ajit Pawar government, the NCP founder said, “If I was truly behind Ajit Pawar’s decision to form government with Fadnavis in November 2019, why would he have had to resign in just three days?”

“When he (Ajit Pawar) took that decision, I held a meeting with party leaders and MLAs and it was decided that the NCP does not want to form government with the BJP. When this message was communicated to Ajit Pawar, he tendered his resignation,” Sharad Pawar added.

Asked about his decision to break away from the Congress and form the NCP in 1999 and how it compares with the step taken by Ajit Pawar to join the Eknath Shinde government, the former Union minister said, “My stand was clear, and then I formed the NCP.”

“After the elections (at the time), when there was a chance for the BJP to form government. (Congress leader) Sonia Gandhi took the initiative and started a dialogue to form government. We did not want to give the BJP any chance to form government so the Congress and NCP came together,” he added.

However, Ajit Pawar and some MLAs joined the government despite the NCP having fought against the BJP (in the 2019 assembly polls), Sharad Pawar pointed out.

The NCP split in July last year after Ajit Pawar and eight MLAs joined the Shinde government. The party’s clock symbol and name was later given to the Ajit Pawar faction.

Sharad Pawar’s daughter and sitting MP Supriya Sule is contesting against Ajit Pawar’s wife Sunetra Pawar in Baramati in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Asked if this family tussle pains him, Sharad Pawar said, “I am aware that many members in my family have different opinions on various issues. I am not hurt by her (Sunetra) decision to contest the election, as everyone is entitled to do so.”

“Both sides will do their best to win. It is that simple,” the opposition stalwart added.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed - PTI)

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