I thank the prime minister for giving our corrupt colleagues a 'clean' chit: Sharad Pawar

The NCP chief put out a statement following the Ajit Pawar-led rebellion within his party on July 2

Sharad Pawar (photo: Getty Images)
Sharad Pawar (photo: Getty Images)

NH Digital

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) founded by Sharad Pawar in 1999 suffered a vertical split on Sunday, July 2, after his nephew Ajit Pawar broke ranks and joined the Shiv Sena-BJP government as deputy chief minister.

Ajit Pawar and eight other MLAs have taken oath as ministers in the Eknath Shinde-led government. On Monday, July 3, the NCP moved a petition before Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar, seeking the disqualification of Ajit Pawar and the eight others.

Several opposition leaders lashed out at the BJP following the major political upheaval in Maharashtra, saying the ruling party's "washing machine" has resumed its operations and it can no longer talk about fighting corruption as it has joined hands with tainted leaders.

Following is the NCP-supremo Sharad Pawar's statement on his nephew's rebellion, given at a press conference on Sunday night:

Prime Minister Modi made a speech directed at the Nationalist Congress Party two days ago. He made two statements. He cited a cooperative bank case and the irrigation department to demonstrate that the NCP is a corrupt party. 

Our NCP colleagues named in the fraud were recruited into the Maharashtra cabinet two days after the charges were made. That suggests the allegations were unfounded. I am grateful to the Prime Minister for releasing those colleagues from the allegations and providing them with a clean bill of health (with this induction). 

Some of our colleagues appear to have taken on roles other than those defined by the party. I had called for a party meeting on July 6 to discuss some organisational reforms within the party. But, even before that meeting, some of our colleagues appear to have chosen a diametrically opposed position to the party. They appear to have decided that they are the party. How many of our MLAs have taken which stance should become obvious in the coming days That's because several of these MLAs have told me that even if they had signed on (to the opposing side), they still supported our (ideological) position. My faith in these MLAs will be restored if they have the fortitude to go before the people and reiterate that declaration. If they do not make that declaration public, I will draw my own inferences that they hold an opposing viewpoint to ours. 

In terms of what happened today, while some may say it is a unique rebellion, it is not. In 1980, all but six of the 58 MLAs elected on the ticket of the party I was leading (Congress-S) had defected within a month of the (assembly) elections.   I gathered the remaining five, and the six of us reconstructed the party from the ground up. Except for two or three of those who had gone over, all of those who had crossed over lost their elections in the subsequent elections. From now on, it would be my exclusive mission to seek the support of the people of Maharashtra to replicate the post-1980 reality.  

I have total faith in all Maharashtrians, especially the younger generation. Even four years earlier, Maharashtra saw a similar picture (the BJP had snatched the majority of his MLAs just before the 2019 elections). But I went where I had to go and took the necessary stand in front of the people. As a result, we returned in even larger numbers than before and were successful in forming a coalition government (in Maharashtra). We are once again in the same predicament today. I'm getting a lot of calls from individuals saying they're with us, that they're one with us, and that they'll help and support us.  

Tomorrow (July 3), I will travel to Karad to pay my respects at the Samadhi of the late Yashwantrao Chavan (his mentor and Maharashtra's first chief minister) and attend my first meeting with various Dalit organisations tomorrow. I plan to travel around the state and throughout the country to meet and connect with as many individuals as possible. This will be my policy (strategy?) from now on. 

(The original statement was in Marathi and has been suitably adapted for publication in English by National Herald)  

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