Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray
Following speculations that senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar may break ranks to join hands with the ruling BJP in the state, Sharad Pawar reportedly reassured Uddhav I File Photo

Sharad Pawar told Uddhav that NCP will never join hands with BJP, claims Raut

On Sunday (April 16), Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut asserted that NCP chief Sharad Pawar had informed Uddhav Thackeray that his party would never form an alliance with the BJP, even if an individual within the party made such a decision.

Raut made the comments in his weekly column Rokhthok in the party mouthpiece Saamana in the wake of speculations that senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar may break ranks to join hands with the ruling BJP in the state, amid a plea seeking disqualification of 16 MLAs of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena pending before the Supreme Court.

However, Ajit Pawar, who is the leader of opposition in the state Assembly, dubbed such speculations as baseless and denied meeting Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah in Mumbai on Saturday night.

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The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Thackeray’s Shiv Sena (UBT) and the Congress are constituents of the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in the state.

Raut in the Marathi publication claimed, “(Sharad) Pawar told Uddhav Thackeray during their meeting (on Tuesday) that nobody wants to switch over. But, family is being targeted. If anyone takes a personal decision to leave, it is their individual issue. But we as a party will never go with the BJP.”

“There is tremendous anger among people of Maharashtra against the present state government. Any one joining the BJP will be committing political suicide. This is want Thackeray and Pawar felt,” the Rajya Sabha member wrote.

He further claimed that Sharad Pawar during the meeting with former chief minister Thackeray said he would like to tell those who want to switch over that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) “files” will go in a cupboard from the table, but will never be closed.

There are speculations in political circles about what would be the future move of Ajit Pawar and the senior NCP leader should himself clarify, Raut said.

He said a sugar mill belonging to Ajit Pawar’s family was raided and seized by the ED. But, now the chargesheet doesn’t have any mention of Ajit Pawar or his family members. What happened to the allegations of money laundering in the purchase of the sugar mill. Were the raids and allegations just for political pressure? the Sena (UBT) leader asked.

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Sharad Pawar’s another associate (former Maharashtra minister) Hasan Mushrif was also being targeted by central probe agencies, Raut added.

Meanwhile, state minister Dada Bhuse, who belongs to the Shinde-led Shiv Sena on Sunday said, “Ajit Pawar is restless in the NCP for several years. We all know it. Anything can happen.”

When reporters asked Ajit Pawar in Nagpur about speculations over his next political move, the NCP leader said, “I have been reading the comments of ministers Dada Bhuse, Gulabrao Patil, Uday Samant about me. I cant understand why there is so much overpouring of love for me. We are working unitedly for strengthening the MVA.”

He denied rumours that he met Union minister Amit Shah in Mumbai on Saturday night. “These are baseless talks,” the NCP leader said.

Ajit Pawar further said the BJP and independents have 115 MLAs (in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly). Even if 16 MLAs are disqualified, the present government will have 149 MLAs. If 16 MLAs are disqualified, the Assembly’s effective strength will be 272, he said.

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There is no need to create unnecessary speculation and misunderstandings, he added.

Ajit Pawar also said two leaders from each party in the MVA will speak in the joint rallies of the alliance.

“In Aurangabad (rally), myself and Dhananjay Munde from the NCP, Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan from the Congress and Chandrakant Khaire and Uddhav Thackeray from Shiv Sena (UBT) spoke. In Nagpur today, Jayant Patil and Anil Deshmukh will speak from the NCP side,” he said.

The opposition alliance has planned to hold joint rallies in all seven revenue divisions of the state.

“The message of unity needs to percolate to the grassroots, Jayant Patil said last month, while admitting that the MVA faces a double challenge of defeating the BJP by staying united as well as strengthening its own grassroot cadre.

This process will smoothen after the MVA holds joint rallies in the state, Patil had said.

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