September 11, 2017
Sanjay Raut, a senior leader from BJP ally Shiv Sena has alleged in a signed article in his party’s mouthpiece Saamana, that Sharad Pawar told him he had met the Prime Minister along with Supriya Sule.
Written by Saurabh Gupta
Supriya Sule, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) lawmaker, has denied meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with her father and party chief Sharad Pawar ahead of this month’s Cabinet reshuffle at the Centre.
“I never met the PM with Mr Pawar,” Ms Sule told NDTV this morning. Sanjay Raut, a senior leader from BJP ally Shiv Sena has alleged in a signed article in his party’s mouthpiece Saamana, that Sharad Pawar told him he had met the Prime Minister along with Ms Sule, who turned down an offer to join the union cabinet.
“The PM told me he wanted Supriya in the Union Cabinet,” Mr Raut quotes Sharad Pawar as saying and also that Supriya Sule said she would “be the last person to join hands with the BJP.”
Sharad Pawar is yet to respond to Mr Raut’s article, which comes amid massive heart burn in the Shiv Sena over the reshuffle not including an expansion of its membership in PM Modi’s council of ministers.
The article renewed speculation about an imminent partnership between the BJP and Mr Pawar’s NCP. It was published on a day when Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP shared stage with union finance minister Arun Jaitley and Sharad Pawar at a function to celebrate 100 years of the Pune District Central Cooperative bank. Supriya Sule was also present at the event.
The cabinet reshuffle last week saw several ministers promoted and nine new ministers take oath, all from the BJP, whose leaders have indicated that a separate cabinet expansion will be held to include new allies like the Janata Dal (United).
The Shiv Sena, which believes that it must have more representation in the central government than the one cabinet minister it currently has, is miffed and held an emergency meeting, making fresh noises about a break-up with the BJP.
The Shiv Sena is the BJP’s oldest ally, but also its most difficult. Constantly at loggerheads, the two parties also share power in Maharashtra, where Chief Minister Fadnavis’ government will be plunged into a minority if the Sena withdraws support. The BJP sees the NCP as a possible ally to plug the gap if that happens.
The NCP has repeatedly denied a growing closeness with the BJP and has asserted that it remains a committed member of an 18-party opposition bloc that is seen to have come together to take on the BJP in the run-up to the 2019 national election when PM Modi will seek a second term.
The NCP’s Nawab Malik dismissed Mr Raut’s article as an attempt to create controversy. “The article in the Saamana itself says Mr. Pawar has said that these are all rumours. Supriya Sule has also said no to joining the BJP. We have ideological differences with the BJP and there is no question of joining it” Mr Malik said.
“It was the Prime Minister who acknowledged Mr. Sharad Pawar as his political guru. This is perhaps just an extension to that,” said Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande.