NCP chief Sharad Pawar today asserted that the BJP's poor show in the just held bypolls was "not a small thing" and called upon opposition parties to come together, saying he was ready to play the role of an unifier.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar today asserted that the BJP’s poor show in the just held bypolls was “not a small thing” and called upon opposition parties to come together, saying he was ready to play the role of an unifier. In Maharashtra’s Palghar Lok Sabha by-election, which was won by the ruling party, the anti-BJP votes were more than the ballots polled by it, he claimed. Most of the “bypoll results went against the ruling party. This is not a small thing”, Pawar said. Dealing a blow to the BJP, opposition parties last week emerged victorious in 11 out of the 14 Lok Sabha and Assembly bypolls, while limiting the saffron party and its allies to just three. The Maratha strongman said he would be happy to work towards uniting like-minded parties to take on the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next year.
“The anti-BJP parties who believe in democracy and having a common minimum programme (CMP) should keep in mind the wishes of the people and come together. I would be happy to be part of the process to unite all like-minded parties,” the former Union minister said. He said non-NDA national and regional parties that have a strong base in their respective regions should arrive at an understanding to come together.
In this context, he said parties which have strong presence in states, like the Left in Kerala, the JD(S) (Karnataka), the Congress (Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Maharashtra), the TDP (Andhra Pradesh), the TRS (Telangana), the TMC (West Bengal) and the NCP in Maharashtra need to build a consensus. Pawar was talking to reporters at his residence here after meeting the newly elected NCP MP from Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha constituency, Madhukar Kukade.
The NCP chief pointed out that in 1977, too, the opposition’s unity resulted in the defeat of the then Congress government. “There have been some occasions earlier where bypoll defeats have culminated into the defeat of the incumbent government of the time,” he recalled, claiming that a similar situation was prevailing now. To a question on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s remarks about winning the bypolls “at any cost and using any means”, Pawar said the CM’s instructions were implemented.
“I have seen many elections, but never seen so much misuse of power. The district administration (referring to Bhandara-Gondiya bypoll in Maharashtra) orders that banks be kept open on Saturday and Sunday so that beneficiaries can get money in their accounts on the eve of voting,” the 77-year-old Rajya Sabha member said.
Notably, Abhimanyu Kale, the district collector of Gondiya, was shunted out after the Lok Sabha by-election there was marred by large-scale complaints of malfunctioning of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Kale was the returning officer for the Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha constituency where complaints of malfunctioning of EVMs were received from more than 40 polling stations. Pawar said, “The Election Commission said the district collector concerned will not be no poll duty for eight to 10 years.”
“The state and central governments should not keep such government officials in service and take strict action against such officials,” the NCP leader said. On the farmers’ strike, he said all sections of society should support cultivators who have been forced to protest because of the “government’s apathy”. “It is not a political agitation. I appeal to the agitating farmers to avoid throwing milk on roads. They should not destroy the crops they have grown, instead distribute it to the poor people,” Pawar said.