‘BJP always finishes off regional allies,’ says Sharad Pawar; NCP chief lauds Nitish’s foresight in severing ties with saffron party

Mr. Pawar was widely considered as the architect of the erstwhile ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ coalition.

Mr. Pawar was widely considered as the architect of the erstwhile ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ coalition.

Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of always finishing-off its regional allies, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar lauded Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s ‘foresight’ in his decision to sever ties with the BJP.

Speaking in his stronghold Baramati in Pune district, Mr. Pawar alleged that the BJP, in keeping with its policy of weakening its regional allies, was now creating a rift within the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and gradually decimating it.

“The BJP did the same in the Punjab. At one time, Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal was their ally, but today the party is almost finished there. Today, the BJP is planning how the Shiv Sena can be weakened in Maharashtra by trying to split the party…and Eknath Shinde [current Maharashtra Chief Minister] and other rebel MLAs have helped the BJP in doing this,” said the NCP chief.

Mr. Pawar was widely considered as the architect of the erstwhile ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ coalition of the Sena, the NCP and the Congress led by Uddhav Thackeray which was toppled in June following the mega-rebellion by Mr. Shinde’s and 39 other Sena legislators which were abetted by the BJP.

Mr. Pawar said that another specialty of the BJP was that it forged an alliance with a regional party at the time of elections, but at the same time ensured that its ally won fewer seats.

“This happened in Maharashtra too. When a similar picture emerged in Bihar, Nitish Kumar became cautious and took the decision to snap ties with the BJP. No matter how much BJP leaders criticize Nitish Kumar, but he has taken a wise step,” Mr. Pawar said, praising Mr. Kumar’s ‘wisdom’ in anticipating the crisis the BJP was allegedly planning to trigger.

It was also an oblique comment on his ally, Sena chief Mr. Thackeray for not being careful enough in anticipating the crisis within his own party which eventually manifested in the form of Mr. Shinde’s revolt.

BJP never deceives allies: Fadnavis

In a riposte to Mr. Pawar’s allegations against the BJP, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis remarked that the BJP “never deceives its allies” while stating that it was Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena that had stabbed them in the back after the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly election (by electing to form the government with the NCP and Congress despite having fought the polls with the BJP).

“I don’t understand what Mr. Pawar is trying to say… The Shinde camp has 50 MLAs and we have 115. Yet, we have given them the CM’s post. In Bihar, while we had 75 MLAs, the JD (U) had only 42. Still, we kept our word made Nitish Kumar the Chief Minister…I think Pawar’s regret is of a different nature,” said Mr. Fadnavis, drily alluding to the NCP’s disappointment at being out of power following Mr. Shinde’s coup.

He further said that because the Sena (led by Mr. Thackeray) had stabbed the BJP in the back in 2019, the ‘real’ Shiv Sena led by Mr. Shinde had joined the BJP today.

Mr. Fadnavis further took pot-shots on Mr. Pawar’s previous rebellion (in 1978) when he broke away from the Congress to form the Congress (Socialist) and toppled the government to become the Chief Minister himself.

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