Forecasting that mid-term assembly elections in Maharashtra are “inevitable”, NCP President Sharad Pawar on Saturday said there is no question of his party propping up the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in the state.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief told the media that he is even ready to put down his decision in writing and submit a copy to the state Governor if the Shiv Sena withdraws support to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
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“I can right now give a letter to this effect and forward it to the Governor. But even Shiv Sena should submit a letter to the Governor, saying it has withdrawn support and make it public,” Pawar said, putting the ball in the Sena court over the fate of the government headed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The Shiv Sena in the past few weeks has bitterly criticised the BJP in the state and at the Centre, saying the Maharashtra government was “on a notice period”, indicating that it may withdraw support after the outcome of the civic elections on February 23.
However, Pawar termed the recent demand by the Sena leaders of continuing support in return for complete farm loans waiver as “an escape route”.
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Soon after the 2014 October assembly elections, the NCP had extended outside support to the BJP’s minority government as Shiv Sena sat in the opposition for a month before joining the government.
The NCP chief had then justified its decision to provide external support to the BJP “in the interest of political stability and to avoid a fresh round of elections”.
In the last assembly elections, Maharashtra threw up a fractured House as all the main parties had contested separately and against each other.
Attacking the Centre for demonetisation, Pawar said the November 8 move had resulted in massive losses in the farming sector and rural areas, besides job losses in the economy.
“Demonetisation has had an adverse impact on the powerloom and manufacturing sectors, causing 60 per cent increase in unemployment in rural areas. There is a severe displeasure among the rural masses in the state on the performance of the Fadnavis government,” Pawar said.
Questioning Fadnavis’ claims on the “transparency agenda”, Pawar demanded to know how the BJP could spend so much money on advertisements and publicity for the ongoing civic elections in Maharashtra.
Referring to a demand by the BJP to ban the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana Group of Publications for some days during the election period, Pawar said this indicated “dictatorial” attitude of the central government part and expressed his opposition to it.
“I have been in power for long. It is surprising how power has gone to their heads in such a short time and they can demand banning of a newspaper. It’s an indicator of a dictatorial tendency,” Pawar remarked.
On the NCP’s prospects in the ongoing civic elections, Pawar said he is not making any claims that his party would perform well in Mumbai, as it is strong at the state-level.
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