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'Saamna Not Planting Stories About NCP and BJP,' Says Sena Leader Sanjay Raut

Sanjay Rauthad had written in ‘Saamana’ that Sharad Pawar told him during a conversation that Narendra Modi had offered to induct Supriya Sule in the Union cabinet, and that Supriya Sule had refused the offer. The news has again triggered talks of the undercurrents between Nationalist Congress Party and Bharatiya Janata Party.

Vinaya Deshpande | CNN-News18

Updated:September 12, 2017, 7:38 PM IST
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'Saamna Not Planting Stories About NCP and BJP,' Says Sena Leader Sanjay Raut
File photo of NCP chief Sharad Pawar (Reuters)
Mumbai: The political storm brought about by ‘Saamana’ article, written by Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, refuses to fade. A day after Nationalist Congress Party leader Supriya Sule refuted the claims made in the article that she had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Raut shot back, saying that Saamana was not the one planting stories of possible induction of Sharad Pawar and Sule in the central cabinet.

“The conversation between me and Sharad Pawar might have been a private one. He may have expected me to keep it private. But now, unknowingly, I have written about it. Political denials are always offered. That does not change facts,” he told News18.

“In the past few months, it is not Saamana which has been planting stories about Sharad Pawar’s possible induction into the Union cabinet as the agriculture or defence minister. It isn’t Saamana which has been predicting Supriya Sule’s cabinet berth. Forget everything of this. Which party had offered its support to BJP in Maharashtra to form the government? With all due respect, I say that it is Supriya Sule’s right to issue a denial. But denials don’t change facts,” Raut added further.

He had written in Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ that Sharad Pawar told him during a conversation that Narendra Modi had offered to induct Supriya Sule in the Union cabinet, and that Supriya Sule had refused the offer. The news has again triggered talks of the undercurrents between Nationalist Congress Party and Bharatiya Janata Party.

During the 2014 Assembly elections in Maharashtra, the BJP had 122 seats, Shiv Sena had won 63, while the NCP had 41 in its kitty. As the BJP had fallen short of the majority, it needed to enter an alliance. At that time, the Shiv Sena was miffed with the treatment meted out to it and had decided to stay out of the alliance for a brief period. It was the NCP that offered its unconditional outside support to BJP to form the government.

This was just months after the BJP had fought the elections ostensibly on the anti-NCP plank. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had gone to the extent of calling NCP as ‘Naturally Corrupt Party’. There were allegations of rampant corruption against them. The BJP had promised strong action against the corrupt. Prominent cases where the action was promised included the irrigation scam involving the name of the then Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. The Maratha strongman is also the nephew of Sharad Pawar.

Three years later, today, the Anti-Corruption Bureau is far from naming Ajit Pawar in its charge sheets filed in the micro-irrigation scam. In fact, a recent charge sheet filed by the ACB in a Thane court has only named NCP leader Sunil Tatkare, seeking time to probe his role in the corruption case.

Moreover, despite Sharad Pawar's personal attacks on current Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his Brahmin caste, the central BJP leadership is only seen praising Pawar on public forums across the state. The recent example is that of Union Minister Arun Jaitley lauding Sharad Pawar during a public function in Pune. Also, present on the dais at that time was Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Pawar seems to share a very good rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On the contrary, the Shiv Sena has been acting more like an opposition party, despite being a part of the ruling alliance. The saffron party also fears that its leadership might get co-opted by the BJP. “The only real option we have is to continuously take an antagonistic position and to keep fighting BJP. That way, we will keep our cadres motivated to fight them,” a senior Shiv Sena leader told News18 on condition of anonymity.

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is seen crossing swords with the BJP time and again over some issue or the other. On Monday, the Shiv Sena had announced another protest to ensure the completion of farm loan waiver process before Diwali.

The BJP leadership said it was fed up with Sena’s attitude and tantrums. “Yes, there was a time when they were the elder brother in the alliance in Maharashtra. But times have changed. Today, they are the younger brother. They will have to accept it and change their behavior accordingly. They can’t expect us to treat them the way we treated them over a decade ago,” a senior BJP leader said.
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