Prepare for snap polls in Maharashtra: Sharad Pawar


MUMBAI: A month after he extended unconditional support to the BJP, NCP president Sharad Pawar on Tuesday asked his party activists to be prepared for snap polls given the political instability in the state. But chief minister Devendra Fadnavis ruled out the possibility of a snap poll, saying his government was stable and faced no threat.

“We did extend unconditional support to BJP, but it is not the responsibility of my party to provide a stable government in Maharashtra. Our party workers must swing into action and be prepared for snap polls any moment,” Pawar told a two-day conference of NCP workers in Alibaug.

Pawar said that since the political situation after the assembly poll results were out was piquant, NCP had had no option but to extend support to the minority BJP government. “BJP and Shiv Sena were unable to form the government owing to political differences; there was no possibility of Congress joining hands with NCP, while Shiv Sena and NCP lacked the numbers required for formation of government. We analyzed the situation and extended support. Unfortunately, BJP lacked the courage to accept our support,” Pawar said.

Pawar’s volte face assumes importance as the fate of the minority BJP government hangs in the balance. On October 19, even as results were being declared and it was clear the BJP would emerge the single largest party, Pawar was the first to declare unconditional support. Subsequently, there was a split within the NCP on whether its 41 legislators should vote in favour of the confidence motion or abstain. On November 11, Pawar had asked NCP legislators to vote in favour of the confidence motion and for BJP’s nominee for Speaker, Haribhau Bagde. On Tuesday, Pawar clarified that while the trust vote had been passed by a voice vote, NCP legislators had been neutral. “We did not vote for or against the government,” he said.

Pawar said it would be wrong to expect prolonged political stability as no party had secured a clear majority. “We must gear up our organization, find out our shortcomings and prepare for snap polls,” he said.

He also said all parties had successfully targeted NCP and its leaders for their alleged involvement in scams. “We failed to inform people that our leaders were not involved in scams. NCP leaders are prepared to face a probe by any agency,” he said.

In his marathon address, Pawar also alleged that a section in the BJP was nurturing the Hyderabad-based MIM for political reasons. “MIM is inherently out to spread division in society. I have no hesitation in saying a section of BJP was backing MIM,” he claimed.

BJP leader and revenue minister Eknath Khadse refuted the charge. “Pawar’s statement is misleading,” Khadse said.

Ruling out the possibility of snap polls, Khadse told TOI, “We never asked for Pawar’s support and never accepted his support. Even if he withdraws support, our government will be stable.”