Mumbai: Ahead of the Kasba Peth and Chinchwad assembly by-polls in Pune district, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Friday said the Bharatiya Janata Party gives a communal color to the political discourse when it is not confident of winning. Talking to reporters here, the senior NCP leader said it is not new for the BJP to divert attention towards communal issues if it is not confident of a victory.
Bypolls to the Kasba Peth and Chinchwad constituencies, scheduled to be held on February 26, were necessitated following the death of BJP legislators Mukta Tilak and Laxman Jagtap respectively. In Kasba Peth, Congress’ Ravindra Dhangekar faces BJP’s Hemant Rasane, while NCP’s Nana Kate will take on the saffron party’s Ashwini Jagtap in Chinchwad.
Dhangekar and Kate are backed by the Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising the Uddhav Thackeray camp, Congress, and the NCP. Pawar alleged that the Eknath Shinde-BJP ruling alliance is spending huge money on the by-polls.
Asked about BJP leaders’ comments that he wanted an alliance with the saffron party but not Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister, the veteran politician said, I don’t think everyone in the BJP is likable. I don’t think they want me in their alliance. So all statements being made about me by BJP leaders are childish.
The NCP chief said the claims about his role in the short-lived government of Ajit Pawar and Fadnavis in 2019 are an attempt by the government to deflect attention as it doesn’t have anything to show in terms of development.
Responding to allegations that he had made a communal statement during his party’s campaign for the by-polls, Pawar said, What is wrong in appealing to voters to come out and vote from wherever they are? It is okay to take objection if non-voters are asked to come and vote. Taking objection to such a speech is like giving it a communal color, he said.