Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) patriarch Sharad Pawar on Sunday slammed the Narendra Modi government for its alleged failure in safeguarding India’s strategic interests, conceding space to China at the Line of Actual Control and rising inflation.
He asked his party workers to strategise with like-minded parties and work towards keeping the Bharatiya Janata Party away from power.
“We have to democratically challenge the present government, which is misusing Central agencies and money power. We have to be prepared for a fight,” he said.
Briefing presspersons, senior party leader Praful Patel said Mr. Pawar was not an aspirant for the Prime Minister’s post. “Pawar Saab was never a claimant to the post of the Prime Minister. Our party may be smaller in comparison to others, but our leader is respected across the country, much more than the popularity of our party,” Mr. Patel said.
Mr. Pawar accused Mr. Modi of misleading the country with his claim of “no transgression of Indian territory”. “The Prime Minister had said the Chinese Army did not enter, but now it is clear that he had made a misrepresentation. The failure of the Modi government on the matter of China is clear.”
He said defence experts had clearly stated that India had not been able to recapture the positions it lost in April 2020. Mr. Pawar questioned, “Why are we not able to act assertively in front of Chinese infiltration or take action today, if this is not our failure then what is?” Earlier, Mr. Pawar was re-elected as the president of the NCP at the party’s convention held at Talkatora Stadium in Delhi.
Mr. Pawar, in his 30-minute speech, spent a significant time talking about the state of economy. He said the government was celebrating the fact that India had outstripped Britain to become the fifth largest economy in the world, without telling the country the cost at which this status had come. He said inflation was at its peak and the cost of essential commodities was sky high. The rupee had fallen against the dollar and the per capita income had come down. “The far-reaching consequences of all these can be fatal. But at the same time, BJP people are seen saying that everything is going well, their government is very good and the country’s economy is ahead as compared to many other countries,” Mr. Pawar rued.
He also accused the government of misusing the Central agencies against the opposition parties.
Opposition leaders cutting across party lines, including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Farooq Abdullah, P. Chidambaram, Karti Chidambaram, Sanjay Raut, Nawab Malik, Abhishek Banerjee, Satyendra Jain and Manish Sisodia are under the scanner of Central agencies
Significance of venue
Mr. Pawar also stressed the significance of the venue where the convention was held — Talkatora Indoor Stadium. “If you look at the history of Shivaji, he challenged the power of Delhi, Maratha Sardars challenged the power of Delhi, today our party’s convention is being held in the same Delhi.” He said the NCP workers had geared up to work nationally to challenge the misdeeds of the Union government and the opposition unity would be its top priority.
The loudest cheers came for Ajit Pawar, current Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly, when Mr. Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule praised his handling of the Finance Ministry during COVID-19. However, Mr. Ajit Pawar, considered the heir apparent in the NCP, was missing when his name was called as the penultimate speaker before the NCP supremo made his concluding remarks.
Briefing the media at the end of the convention, senior party leader Praful Patel said Mr. Pawar was not an aspirant for the Prime Minister’s post. “Pawar Saab was never a claimant to the post of the Prime Minister. We are a party grounded in reality. Our party may be smaller in comparison to others, but our leader is respected across the country, much more than the popularity of our party,” Mr. Patel said.