NCP MLA Ajit Pawar at a meeting of Pune District Central Cooperative Bank on Saturday. (Express Photo by Pavan Khengre)
Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar on Saturday stoked another controversy by saying the Congress and NCP could have formed the government if Congress leaders had put in more effort in the Assembly elections in October.
The NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena are part of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi in the state. In the Assembly polls, the Congress had won 44 seats while the NCP had won 54 seats, 12 more than its tally in the 2014 elections.
Pawar made the comments while addressing party leaders and workers at a meeting of the Pune District Central Co-Operative Bank in the city on Saturday. This was Pawar’s first speech in Pune since his shocking move on November 23, when he joined hands with the BJP and took oath as deputy chief minister of the state, with Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister. The government lasted for barely 80 hours, before Fadnavis resigned after admitting that the BJP didn’t have the numbers to reach the majority mark in the Assembly.
In his speech in Pune, Pawar showered praise on party chief Sharad Pawar, saying, “Pawar saheb played a pivotal role in the spectacular performance of NCP in the Assembly elections. Pawar saheb had an injury on his leg, he was suffering from health issues and he saw several leaders leave the party. But all that did not deter him and he did not lose hope as he campaigned hard in all parts of the state. He asked us to rope in new faces. This led to an improved performance by NCP. If the Congress leadership had put in more effort like Pawar saheb, the Congress and NCP would have been able to form the government,” he said.
The NCP leader, however, hastened to add that there was no need to look back, instead there was a need to put in an united effort to run the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. “The Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena government will work together to ensure the development of the country,” he said.
Without naming any BJP leaders, Pawar criticised those who had dismissed the Congress-NCP coalition’s chances in the Assembly elections. “Some people were saying that the opposition will be vanquished completely, the Congress and NCP will not even get the opposition leader’s post and the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi will become the opposition party,” he said.
During his speech, Pawar also addressed a range of local issues, including traffic problems in Pune city and water woes in the district. “All these problems will be looked into seriously by the new government. A Maha Vikas Aghadi government is in charge. Development works in Pune city, district and in cantonment areas will be expedited,” he said
Pawar also spoke about the fate of NCP and Congress candidates in Pune city. “We did our best to win the maximum number of seats in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Our candidates put up a good show and lost by smaller margins. Two of our candidates won in Pune city, where we could have done better,” he said.
The NCP leader expressed the view that “political cases” against leaders and workers should be withdrawn. “I will speak to the chief minister regarding this... and on how a way can be found,” he said. Pawar also criticised the attitude of government officials of siding with the party in power. “This used to happen during the previous government. Government officials should not side with the party in power while dealing with people or party workers,” he said.