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Pawar Takes 'Pujari' Dig at Amit Shah Over Ram Mandir Date, Says Matter Raised to Divert Real Issues


Last Updated: January 09, 2023, 08:22 IST

Kolhapur, India

NCP Chief Sharad Pawar. (File photo: PTI)

NCP Chief Sharad Pawar. (File photo: PTI)

"I am not sure whether this issue (Ram Mandir opening date) pertains to the Union home minister," the NCP chief said

NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday took a “pujari" dig at Union home minister Amit Shah for announcing that the Ram temple in Ayodhya will be ready by January 1, 2024 and said the matter is being raised to divert attention from real issues.

Pawar wondered whether the temple issue pertains to the Union home minister.

He also praised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra which he said will help in building consensus among Opposition parties.

“I am not sure whether this issue (Ram Mandir opening date) pertains to the Union home minister. Had Ram Mandir’s pujari (priest) said this then it would have been better, but there is no objection if he (Shah) is taking up the responsibility of the pujari….Issues like Ram Mandir are being raised to divert real issues,” Pawar said replying to a question from reporters.

His remarks come two days after Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge slammed Shah at a rally in Panipat for announcing in poll-bound Tripura that the Ram temple will be ready by next January, wondering in what capacity the BJP leader said so as he is neither the “pujari" nor the “mahant" of the shrine.

Targeting Rahul Gandhi over the Yatra, Shah on Thursday said, “Rahul baba, listen from Sabroom (Tripura) that a mammoth Ram mandir will be ready on January 1, 2024".

Pawar said the Yatra was a reply to the BJP’s attempts to sully the image of Gandhi.

“When Gandhi commenced the Yatra it was criticised. It was a Congress party’s function. Many social organisations participated in it. Common people from villages also participated in the Bharat Jodo Yatra. It also had the sympathy of common people from villages.

“There were attempts by BJP to sully Rahul Gandhi’s image and the Yatra was an answer to these attempts. It was not easy to undertake such a programme for a long duration. The padyatra will also help in building consensus among Opposition parties,” he said.

Pawar also pitched for contesting the 2024 Maharashtra Assembly and the Lok Sabha polls together with the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena and Congress, both constituents of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).

He claimed despite a split in Shiv Sena, the majority of hardcore Shiv Sainiks who work on the ground stand behind Uddhav Thackeray.

Pawar said MLAs and MPs may have aligned with the Eknath Shinde faction of Shiv Sena after the split (last June), but when polls take place, they will also know what the views of people are.

After the 2019 Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Thackeray snapped ties with long-term ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and tied up with the NCP and Congress to form the MVA government in the state.

The Thackeray government fell in June 2022 following the rebellion by Shinde and the bulk of Shiv Sena MLAs.

To a query on the issue of the alliance, Pawar said, “The understanding is that Congress, NCP, and Uddhav Thackeray should work together (for the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra polls). The Republican Party and some groups should be included. But we are having discussions. We take decisions jointly on many issues, so there should not be any problem with this." Thackeray last November predicted mid-term polls in Maharashtra and asked his party workers to start the preparations.

The NCP chief had also said the MVA allies should fight the Maharashtra Assembly elections together.

The Lok Sabha polls are due in May 2024 and the Maharashtra Assembly elections are due in October next year.

On the issue of the ongoing border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka, Pawar said Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had convened a meeting with different parties.

The case should be strongly presented before the court by roping in top legal experts of the country, he added.

The border dispute is currently pending before the Supreme Court.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)
first published:January 09, 2023, 08:22 IST
last updated:January 09, 2023, 08:22 IST