A day after spat on NIA taking over Elgar case, Pawar praises CM

In his speech, Thackeray referred to Pawar as a "guide"


A day after Sharad Pawar criticised the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government for allowing the transfer of the Elgar Parishad case probe to the NIA, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the NCP president on Saturday praised each other at a farmers' rally in Jalgaon district.

On Friday, Pawar had told reporters in Kolhapur that it was not right on part of the Centre to hand over the Elgar Parishad case probe to the NIA from Pune police.

In a swipe at the state government, of which the NCP is a part, Pawar had said, "It was not right for the Centre to hand over the investigation into the case to the NIA. But it was even more wrong for the state government to support the transfer of the case."

Speaking at the rally held in Muktainagar in the district on Saturday, Pawar praised Thackeray's photography skills.

"Maharashtra got a good photographer who spotted a tiger like Chandrakant Patil," he said referring to local independent MLA Chandrakant Patil who had defeated BJP stalwart Eknath Khadse's daughter in the October, 2019 assembly elections.

To this Thackeray replied, without naming Khadse, "Since there was a tiger like Chandrakant Patil, everybody ran away."

In his speech, Thackeray referred to Pawar as a "guide".

"Blessings of the people and guidance of Sharad Pawar saheb is with me while I am functioning as CM," Thackeray said.

The Elgar case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed, triggered violence near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in the district the next day.

The Pune police have claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists.

During the probe into the police, the Pune police arrested Left-leaning activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao for alleged Maoist links.

Meanwhile, Thackeray also dared the opposition BJP to topple his government, which comprises ideologically different Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress.

"I am son of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray who accepted and gave challenges. I challenge the BJP to topple my government today itself instead of waiting till April when the operation lotus is likely to be activated (by the BJP)," he said.

"We did not taken oath to remain as slaves. There seems to be some murmurs in the state BJP at a time when my government is functioning smoothly. It will last its full term," the CM said.

Thackeray further said his government was working to find better ways through which water and day-time electricity can be provided to farmers and they be made debt-free.

He attacked the BJP for criticising his government's scheme waiving loans up to Rs 2 lakhs of farmers.

Thackeray reiterated his government's commitment to introduce two schemes for farmers whose loan outstanding is more than Rs 2 lakh and for those who have paid their farm loans regularly.

In his speech, Pawar said the only focus of the state government was ensuring development.

"Industrial investment should get a boost and the government should focus on the agriculture, industry, and employment generation," he said.

Earlier in the day, Pawar and Thackeray came together for a function in Jalgaon to give out agricultural awards named after Appasaheb Pawar, the NCP chief's elder brother.

Addressing the function, Pawar said, "Today in the world, India has a standing in the field of agriculture. We have attained sufficiency in agriculture despite constraints like burgeoning population. For this, we must give credit to our farmers and scientists."