Mumbai: Days after the unsuccessful 13th round of talks between India and China and the killing of five Army personnel, including a junior commissioned officer by militants in Poonch-Rajouri, former defence minister and NCP President Sharad Pawar on Wednesday expressed serious concerns over the developments. He made a pitch for dialogue between the ruling and opposition parties to display a collective stand on such issues of national importance. “I am asking ruling and opposition parties to take a collective stand on these issues. A month ago, former Defence Minister AK Antony and I were called by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for a briefing on the border row with China in eastern Ladakh, as well as the current situation in the region. One thing that emerged from the meeting was that the ruling and opposition parties should be united, setting aside differences in politics and both sides must speak in one language when defence-related policy is adopted,” Pawar said.
Further, he said he would be speaking to various party leaders and would visit Delhi for a joint meeting between the government and the opposition parties to take a collective stand on the conflict between the two countries along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. “This is necessary, as there has been continuous build-up at the LAC from the other side,” he noted.
But on the other hand, he slammed the BJP-led government for the misuse of Central probe agencies to target the opposition, amid the ongoing income-tax raids for the sixth consecutive day on his nieces, the sisters of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. “Central agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) are being misused,” the senior Pawar claimed. He also said Mumbai Police’s Anti-Narcotics Cell had done a better job than the NCB.
“A new strategy and pattern are emerging, wherein relatives of political opponents are being targeted. One of them (Ajit Pawar’s sisters) is in publishing, another is a doctor, while the other sister is a housewife,” said Pawar, adding that it had never happened that raids had continued for so long. “Such guests (income-tax teams) come and go but they are still there on the sixth day. Guests should enjoy hospitality but not beyond certain limits,” he observed.
Pawar accused the BJP government at the Centre of pursuing a policy of destabilising the state government. “Abuse of power is not just against the NCP. The target seems to be the three ruling parties. The people close to the ministers and leaders of Maha Vikas Aghadi are on the radar. In general, the policy seems to be that the ruling party in Delhi has tried to destabilise the state government, but after two years, nothing has happened,” claimed Pawar. “The government will complete its five-year tenure and therefore, such tactics are being adopted by misusing the Central probe agencies,” he said.
Pawar thanked the people of Maharashtra for a peaceful bandh called by the Maha Vikas Aghadi to protest against the killing of four farmers at Lakhimpur Kheri. “The Union minister of state for home, Ajay Kumar Mishra Teni, should step down, as it is the responsibility of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and at the Centre for not taking timely action against the culprits.
On ED and CBI raids on former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh’s residence, Pawar said, “His house was raided for the fifth time yesterday. I am surprised. What is the need of raiding the same house five times? The public also needs to understand this. ....”
On NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede, who is hogging the headlines for the recent drug seizure on a cruise ship and arrests, Pawar said, “I have tried to obtain information about Wankhede from officials as he was posted earlier in the Mumbai airport. I happened to hear some stories, but I don’t have the complete picture so I won’t speak about it as of now,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pawar took a swipe at the leader of the opposition, Devendra Fadnavis, on his statement that he still feels like he is the chief minister of the state because of the love people shower on him. “It’s good that the BJP leader still considers himself as the chief minister. I congratulate him. After being the chief minister for five years, Fadnavis still feels he is holding the post,” he quipped.