Sharad Pawar takes a dig at PM Modi while handing him the Lokmanya Tilak award
The NCP chief shared the stage with Modi after eight years amid protests by both the Congress and the Shiv Sena (UBT)
The Lokmanya Tilak award conferred on Narendra Modi at the hands of Nationalist Congress Party chief in Pune on Monday, August 1, made an interesting event.
Pawar shared the stage with Modi after eight years amid protests by both the Congress and the Shiv Sena (UBT) that his sharing the stage with Modi would be bad optics and send out the wrong message towards Opposition unity.
However, Pawar, who had accepted the invitation long ago did not cancel but used the opportunity to make a dig at Modi to his face. While shaking his hand and sharing smiles with the Prime Minister, who claims to be a great admirer of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the NCP chief said, "Shivaji never snatched lands belonging to somebody else."
It was an oblique reference to the manner in which Modi and the BJP have both been breaking up other parties with the threat of criminal action against them to form or bolster their own government. Modi did not respond to the dig.
Prior to his arrival in Pune, Modi was faced with slogans and placards put up by opposition parties led by the Congress such as "Crime Minister Go Back!"
Meanwhile, Modi invoked Hindutva icon V.D. Savarkar during his public address after being conferred with the award by trustees Deepak Tilak (son of Lokmanya Tilak) and Congressman Rohit Tilak. Deputy CMs Devendra Fadnavis, Ajit Pawar and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde were also present on the dias.
Praising Tilak as an institution builder for national development and personality development, he said "Lokmanya had the unique talent and foresight to spot young talent and he had seen that talent in Savarkar."
However, there is little historical record to prove that Savarkar was ever a Tilak protègè, though Savarkar was clearly influenced by Tilak's policies as he mentions in some of his writings. Though Savarkar was clearly not taken with Tilak's ability to accept the chages brought against him by the British, stand trial and take his punishment on the chin.
"At that time Savarkar was young and Tilak identified his capabilities. He wanted Savarkar to go abroad, complete studies and come back to serve the country," said Modi. He further said that he was honored to have received the award named after Lokmanya Tilak who was at the forefront of the Indian freedom struggle movement.
The event on Tuesday marked the first time that the senior Pawar was seen sharing the stage with nephew Ajit Pawar who broke away from the NCP with his faction of legislators and joined the BJP-led state government.
Also Read: Making sense of the NCP split
Earlier in April, the NCP chief had praised Savarkar saying that he had a scientific and progressive outlook and said that political controversy which had developed following Rahul Gandhi’s comments on Savarkar was distracting people from several important and serious issues affecting the society.
On reaching Pune, PM Modi directly went to iconic Dagdusheth Ganpati temple where he performed the traditional Pooja and was given memorabilia and souvenir from the temple management. The PM also made a public announcement that he would be donating Rs 1 lakh prize money to the Namami Gange Project.
"Today we have gathered here to confer the award on PM Modi which has earlier been given to stalwarts like Atal Bihari Vajpayee , Dr Manmohan Singh, Indira Gandhi, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Balasaheb Deoras and Shankar Dayal Sharma. In this list of illustrious people, the name of PM Modi has also been included which is matter of great happiness for all of us," Pawar said at the event.