Even as several Opposition leaders are under the scanner of central probe agencies, NCP president Sharad Pawar on Sunday said his party will never surrender before the “rulers in Delhi” and urged non-BJP parties to work together to keep the saffron party away from power.
Addressing the eighth national convention of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Delhi, Mr Pawar slammed Prime Minister Modi’s government over rising inflation, unemployment, its handling of the farmers’ protests and “fanning hatred” against religious minorities in the country.
“We have to democratically challenge the present government, which is misusing central agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate, CBI and money power. We have to be prepared for a fight,” the 81-year-old Rajya Sabha member told party workers.
Opposition leaders cutting across party lines, including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Farooq Abdullah, P Chidambaram, Karti Chidambaram, Sanjay Raut, Nawab Malik, Abhishek Banerjee, Satyendra Jain, Manish Sisodia are under the scanner of central agencies.
While Prime Minister Modi’s government claims they are being investigated for alleged irregularities committed by them, the opposition has termed the actions political vendetta.
Mr Pawar also stressed on the significance of the venue where the convention was held in Talkatora Indoor Stadium.
“It is at this very place that Bajirao Peshwa had camped with his army in 1737 and challenged the rulers of Delhi,” he said.
The veteran leader also directed his party workers to strategise with like-minded parties and undertake joint programmes on issues affecting the common man and work towards keeping the BJP away from power.
Briefing the media, senior NCP leader Praful Patel said Mr Pawar was uniquely placed to play a strong role in uniting the opposition forces.
At the same time, he brushed aside rumours that the octagenarian was a claimant to the prime minister’s post, but said he always pursued constructive politics.
“Pawar Saab was never a claimant to the post of the prime minister. We are a party grounded in reality. Our party may be smaller in comparison to others, but our leader is respected across the country, much more than the popularity of our party,” Mr Patel said.
The NCP national convention was also addressed by senior leaders P C Chacko, Chhagan Bhujbal, Supriya Sule, Jayant Patil, Amol Kolhe and Fouzia Khan, among others.
Mr Pawar also stressed on nurturing young leadership by giving them primacy in the upcoming elections to the city corporations, zilla parishad and panchayat samitis across the country.
Further, he praised NCP youth wing president Dheeraj Sharma and the party’s student wing president Sonia Doohan for organising the national convention in Delhi.
The loudest cheers came for Ajit Pawar, former deputy chief minister of Maharashtra and current Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, when Mr Pawar’s daughter Sule praised his handling of the finance ministry during Covid.
However, Ajit Pawar, considered the heir apparent in the NCP, was missing when his name was called out as the penultimate speaker before the NCP supremo made his concluding remarks.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)