Sharad Pawar is going with bent knees to Congress: Piyush Goyal

Piyush Goyal and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in Mumbai. (Express photo by Dilip Kagda)

UNION MINISTER Piyush Goyal on Saturday accused NCP chief Sharad Pawar of "bending his knees" before the Congress to ensure a tie-up ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Addressing mediapersons in Mumbai, Goyal said, "Pawar, who had parted ways with Congress, is now bending his knees to have a pre-poll alliance with the Congress." On Pawar considering to contest from Madha in the elections, the minister said, "He is welcome to contest from any seat in Maharashtra. It will give BJP an opportunity to defeat him."

Responding to the initiative taken by Pawar to get all like-minded parties on a common platform, Goyal said: "Everybody knows what Pawar said when he left the party (Congress, in 1999). But today, he is bending his knees to have an alliance with Congress."

Goyal was referring to Pawar's differences with then Congress president Sonia Gandhi, which had led to his expulsion from the party. On June 10, 1999, after leaving Congress, Pawar - who had raised objections to Sonia's foreign origin - had set up NCP.

Meanwhile, while exuding confidence that Shiv Sena and BJP would ally for the polls, Goyal said, "We have already made our offer for pre-poll alliance with the Shiv Sena." On whether BJP was failing to understand Sena president Uddhav Thackeray's maan ki baat, the minister said: "The Sena and BJP have always been in communication both at the Centre and the state."

Goyal ruled out the possibility of holding Lok Sabha and Assembly elections together in Maharashtra. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in favour holding Lok Sabha and Assembly elections together all over country, provided there is an all-party consensus," he said while underlining the factor that simultaneous elections cannot be applied selectively in states.

Goyal was in the city with Union Minister for Minorities Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. They launched the party's 'Bharat Ke Maan Ki Baat, Modi Ke Saath' project, under which, the party plans to engage the common public in formulating its election manifesto. In Maharashtra, the party has installed 7,500 suggestion boxes.