NCP chief Sharad Pawar today said there was no issue of who will lead the possible anti-BJP alliance in the next general elections, and added that there is a need to give a political option to people as desired by them.
Describing the recent violence in Amravati and some other places in Maharashtra as very unfortunate, he said the government should frame a policy wherein the shopkeepers and traders, who become targets of such incidents, can be compensated.
He also said that “injustice” was done to former Maharashtra Home Minister and NCP leader Anil Deshmukh, who is currently in jail under judicial custody after being arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case.
Mr Pawar was speaking after meeting the representatives of the Nagpur Vidarbha Chamber of Commerce (NVCC), who raised concerns over the recent violence in parts of Maharashtra, and said innocent shopkeepers and traders become victims of violence and suffer losses despite no fault of theirs.
The NCP supremo, when asked by reporters about the likely formation of an anti-BJP alliance and whether West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee could lead that front, said the issue of alliance would be discussed in the upcoming session of the Parliament.
“Who will be the leader of that alliance is not an issue. Today, there is a need to give an option, that is what people desire and we will take the support of various parties to fulfil people’s desire,” he said.
In June this year, Mr Pawar had hosted leaders of eight opposition parties including TMC, SP, AAP, RLD and the Left at his residence in the national capital and discussed various issues facing the country, amid heightened speculation about the possibility of a third front against the ruling BJP.
Mr Pawar is one of the senior-most politicians in the country and enjoys a good rapport with political parties across the board. It was due to his efforts that ideologically opposite Shiv Sena and Congress joined hands along with the NCP to form the government in Maharashtra.
Referring to the communal violence in Tripura, the repercussions of which were felt in Maharashtra, Mr Pawar said having a strong reaction for something that has not happened in the state is not good.
“The government needs to work on framing a policy so that such victims of violence can be helped. A policy should be brought wherein innocent small traders could be compensated in the form of changes in taxation or by way of providing incentives in order to compensate for their losses,” he said.
The former Union minister further said that what happened in Amravati was a very “sensitive issue”.
“I can understand if something happens in a particular state and there is a reaction in that state. But something happened in Tripura, but it triggered a reaction here that is not good. Besides, some people tried to take law into their hands …what happened there is not correct. The government has to look into this issue very strictly,” he added.
When asked about Anil Deshmukh, Mr Pawar said that former Mumbai police commissioner (Param Bir Singh), after making allegations against him, has gone absconding and not coming forward to prove them, which is why the former minister was in jail.
“It is kind of injustice to Anil Deshmukh,” Mr Pawar said, but refused to speak further on the issue saying the matter is sub judice.
On a query about Devendra Fadnavis’s reported remark that the recent violence in Maharashtra was done to appease Muslims, Mr Pawar said the statements made by the BJP leader in the last two days were very shallow and not expected from him.
“It showed his uneasiness after losing power,” he said.
Replying to a question over the recent statement made by Congress leader Nana Patole that NCP hardly has any presence in Vidarbha, Mr Pawar said that NCP-Congress are working together on the ideology of Gandhiji and (Jawaharlal) Nehru.
“However, a person who had won the Lok Sabha and Assembly election as a BJP candidate earlier, his thinking and loyalty can be understood,” he said.
Earlier, while addressing the NVCC members, Mr Pawar took a jibe at Mr Fadnavis without naming him, saying that the one who belongs to Vidarbha could have solved their issues when he was in power.
In his speech, Mr Pawar, however, praised Union minister Nitin Gadkari for extending help to the state without seeing who the person is or from which party he belongs.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)