Pawar's 'merger with Cong' remark shows it's difficult for him to run his party, says Fadnavis

May 09,2024

NCP founder Sharad Pawar's remark on regional parties' possible merger with the Congress shows it has become difficult for him to manage his own party, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Wednesday.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde latched on to Pawar's comment to target Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray, saying the latter has already become "Congress-minded".

Another leader of the ruling 'Mahayuti' in Maharashtra said Pawar's remarks reflect that ground was slipping from under his feet in his home turf Baramati and the only option before him was merging his party with the Congress.

In an interview to The Indian Express, Pawar said that in the next couple of years, several regional parties will associate more closely with the Congress or may look at the option of merger with it if they believe that is best for their party.

To a question if that applied to his own party, Pawar told the newspaper that he doesn't see any difference between the Congress and his party because both belong to the Gandhi, Nehru line of thinking.

Pawar made it clear that any decision on strategy or the next step will be taken collectively. He also said that his party is close to the Congress ideologically and that Uddhav Thackeray is positive about working together with like-minded parties.

Asked about Pawar's remark, Shinde said the Shiv Sena (UBT) has already become Congress-minded.

"Pawar is a big leader and he makes such statements. But the Sena (UBT) faction has already become Congress as they speak the language of the Congress and Pakistan," Shinde, who heads the ruling Shiv Sena, said.

"Just the formality (of merger between them) is remaining," he added.

Fadnavis said that through his remark, Pawar might be suggesting that it was difficult for him to run his party and hence he may opt to merge it with the Congress.

"It is nothing new because Pawar has formed new parties and later merged them with the Congress," he said.

Former Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam, who recently rejoined the ruling Shiv Sena led by CM Shinde, said Pawar has been thinking about merging his party with the Congress for a long time and even the Congress had given the proposal to this effect to him.

"But Congress rejected the proposal to entrust the leadership to Supriya Sule. Pawar's fresh comment suggests that the ground is slipping from under his feet in Baramati. Even if that is not the case, he has no option but merge his party with Congress which will be seen as a merger of two loss-making companies," the former MP said.

BJP leader Prasad Lad asked whether the Sena (UBT) will merge with the Congress along with the Sharad Pawar-led party.

"Uddhav Thackeray has stopped saying 'My Hindu brothers and sisters' at the outset of his speeches. He has become friends with those who criticise Veer Savarkar. Only time will tell whether Thackeray will merge his party with Congress," he said.

NCP (SP) working president Supriya Sule said her father made a generic statement.

Leader of Opposition in the state assembly and senior Congress leader Vijay Waddetiwar said there was truth in what Pawar said.

"He has a long-term vision. People are fed up with the dictatorial regime and want a change of guard," he said, targeting the BJP-led government.

Chhagan Bhujbal of the Ajit Pawar-led NCP said he doesn't think regional parties will merge with the Congress.

"They are strong in their respective states and have formed governments in West Bengal and Odisha," he said, referring to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).