The Nationalist Congress Party will launch a Maharashtra-wide agitation this month-end, coinciding with the completion of one-year of the BJP-Shiv Sena government in the state. NCP chief Sharad Pawar will address a public rally in Mumbai on 31 October. The agitation follows Pawar’s scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra.
“He will talk about the incompetence of the governments both at the Centre and at the state and how they have been a failure on each front,” a senior NCP leader told this newspaper.
“Yes, we are going to hold a mass drive against the state government from 25-31 October. During this period, while the government will celebrate the completion of one year, we will hold agitations, corner and village meetings in every part of the state. After all, we have been performing the role of the principal opposition party for the past one year,” Nawab Malik, national spokesperson of NCP, said.
Pawar will address a mass rally at Worli’s Jambori Maidan on 31 October. The other modalities of the protest are being worked out.
“The party’s cadre at every district and village level is being told about their role in the protest,” a party member said. “On the backdrop of things happening in the country and the state, it was the right time for Pawar to put forth before the people the atmosphere of communal intolerance. We have been fighting for the cause of farmers in the state. We have been involved in Jail Bharo andolan, dharnas, and have been pushing the government,” said Clyde Crasto, Maharashtra spokesperson of NCP.
In a week which saw heavy infighting between the ruling Shiv Sena and BJP, Pawar, in an unsual gesture, flew down to Mumbai to address the press here. He launched a frontal attack against not just the Maharashtra government, but also the PM. “The situation in the country today is extremely worrisome. Writers and academicians are returning their awards. Tolerance in the society is at a low. People are taking to extremist steps, and there is a blatant attempt to justify it,” he said. He said that the rise in communal intolerance in the country was a cause of serious concern. He also pinned the responsibility on Prime Minister Modi for reining in on such incidents. Maintaining that the PM’s comment on Dadri incident was unsatisfactory, he said, “Though law and order is a state subject, the Prime Minister cannot ignore it. Whenever such incidents happen, the Centre asks the state government what steps it is taking to control such things. When I was the Maharashtra Chief Minister, violent incidents had marred Marathwada after the Marathwada University was named after Babasaheb Ambedkar. The then Prime Minister and Home Minister had summoned me and asked me if the state government needed any help to take measures for bringing the situation under control.”
Pawar, however, refused to comment on Sanatan Sanstha, a religious organisation whose member has been arrested in connection with Govind Pansare’s murder.
Denying reports of NCP extending external support to BJP, Pawar rubbished any possibility of mid-term polls. He said that the Shiv-Sena and BJP alliance in the state would not break because Shiv Sena was too desperate to be in power. “I can’t say if this government will work, but it will definitely last. They (Sena) won’t leave power. For power, they are willing to sacrifice their self-respect,” he said, adding the government has been a failure on all fronts, and is not likely to work as the alliance partners don’t see eye-to-eye. “They will keep abusing each other, but not leave power,” he said.