Modi targets Sharad Pawar, family and NCP

Wardha (Maharashtra) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday attacked the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and its top leadership, accusing them of ignoring farmers for decades and indulging in blatant corruption.

He specifically targeted NCP President Sharad Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar and others and said that owing to a severe ‘intra-family crises’ the party’s grip was slipping from Sharad Pawar’s hands.

“Sharad Pawar is one of the most experienced leaders. Anything he does or speaks is after deep calculations. He recently said he would fight the elections, but suddenly backtracked. The person who once thought he could become the PM has left the battlefield even before the battle has begun. Even he knows which way the wind is blowing,” Modi thundered.

He said that the power play within the family coupled with Ajit Pawar gradually tightening his hold on the party had created huge problems for the NCP to even allot ticket to candidates in the Lok Sabha elections.

Last month, Pawar flip-flopped between contesting for the Lok Sabha, then decided to give an opportunity to gen-next by nominating his grand-nephew Parth Ajit Pawar from the Maval constituency.

“During their tenure as Ministers in the centre and state, the Pawars only looted thousands of crores of rupees through irrigation projects, infrastructure, realty sectors. They were now worried about all these scams,” Modi said.

And it was because of the multi-thousand crores of rupee irrigation scam that a drought situation had been created in the Vidarbha region.

Modi charged the Pawars with ignoring various big and small irrigation projects and said the BJP government had completed 99 such incomplete dam works, of which 36 were in Maharashtra alone.

Instead, he said, the Congress-NCP government in 2011 had ordered police firing on farmers protesting in Maval but the BJP-Shiv Sena government had taken up the Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan in earnest which was helping to resolve the drinking water crises in the state.

Modi’s attacks on the Pawars – considered the biggest political family in the state – came while launching the BJP’s election campaign from Wardha in Vidarbha region of eastern Maharashtra.

Modi has in the past been an unabashed admirer of Pawar, whom he once described as his ‘political mentor’ during his early days in politics, to which the NCP veteran reciprocated warmly.

Before the countdown to the 2019 elections, Pawar had said that though the BJP may emerge as the single largest party, Modi would not become the Prime Minister again.

Earlier, Modi said he was “proud” to be a “chowkidar of toilets”, while taking the Congress abuse as an “ornament”.

Referring to a Congress leader’s reported comments comparing him with a chowkidar of toilets, Modi claimed he was “a guardian of the dignity and self-respect of millions of women” who faced huge embarrassment in the absence of toilets in their homes.

“I am proud and happy to be the custodian of the ‘izzat’ of crores of women who have to run out before sunrise or wait till sunset for their ablutions,” Modi said here as he launched the BJP’s election campaign for Maharashtra.

“By insulting me, the Congress has insulted the sanitation workers who toil to keep toilets clean. It may be a laughing matter for them, but I am absolutely serious about it.”

Present on the occasion were Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, Ramdas Athawale and BJP Lok Sabha candidates from the Vidarbha region.