Narendra Modi brings up Pawar in Maha rallies

​​This isn’t without reason though as BJP insiders believe that NCP, which had got four seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, is likely to increase its tally this time.

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Modi has also cancelled a rally in Baramati – Pawar’s bastion -- on April 10. Baramati is where Supriya Sule, daughter of Pawar, is contesting from.
MUMBAI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rallies in Maharashtra had a recurring theme: Sharad Pawar. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief has found a mention in all his speeches, leaving even those in the NCP somewhat bemused.

This isn’t without reason though as BJP insiders believe that NCP, which had got four seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, is likely to increase its tally this time. A conservative estimate puts the NCP tally at nine seats (minimum), and in a post-poll scenario where the BJP doesn’t have the requisite numbers to form a government at the Centre, then relations with the NCP can come in handy.

While the BJP in 2014 had gone to town talking about corruption in irrigation projects involving the NCP, the PM in all his rallies this time around has referred to corruption within the NCP just twice. Once in Gondia, where he spoke of how a certain NCP leader was sweating because of the BJP, and in another rally, the PM spoke of how the Congress and NCP were involved in corruption in irrigation projects.


But the farthest he has gone to attack Pawar was when he talked about his differences with his nephew, Ajit Pawar. In his speeches, Modi has instead been questioning on how Pawar could still stick with the Congress. In Latur, he said, “Does it suit a man of Pawar’s stature to stand with such divisive political parties?”

In Ahmednagar too, he tried to paint Pawar as a nationalist by saying, “When there is a talk of two PMs in J&K, how can you be silent? After shaking hands with the Congress, you have been seeing the country from the eyes of a foreigner -- how can you sleep in the night?”

Modi has also cancelled a rally in Baramati – Pawar’s bastion -- on April 10. Baramati is where Supriya Sule, daughter of Pawar, is contesting from.

In 2014, a Rashtriya Samaj Paksha candidate, riding on the Modi wave and backed by the BJP, gave Sule a scare in Baramati. “This seems to be an attempt to stay in Pawar’s good books. Also, one has to remember that the BJP has not acted against Ajit Pawar in the irrigation scam these past four years in spite of naming him. If they had arrested Ajit, it would have hurt Pawar Sr. This way, there could be backchannel talks,” said Prakash Joshi, a political analyst.
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Incidentally, for the past two months, Maharashtra Cabinet minister Chandrakant Patil, known to be close to BJP president Amit Shah, had been saying publicly that Ajit Pawar could get into trouble with the law “any time soon”.

BJP and NCP have been fighting publicly, with the BJP charging the NCP of being involved in irrigation project scams during the 2014 parliamentary and assembly polls.

The NCP surprised many when in the 2014 assembly polls it unilaterally supported a BJP minority government in Maharashtra when it didn’t have the numbers and hadn’t even sought its support.
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