Mumbai: In a potentially controversial statement, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar on Thursday said that the “minorities” decide whom to defeat or elect in the elections.
“In the last (2019) Maharashtra assembly elections, Muslims rejected the Bharatiya Janata Party… In rural areas not a single Muslim voted for BJP (candidates),” Pawar said, addressing the NCP Minority Cell meeting here.
During elections, the minorities “decide whom to defeat” and they vote only for those (parties) which can vanquish the BJP and “the change of guard in Maharashtra is because of that”, said Pawar, amidst thunderous applause.
Attacking the BJP, the NCP supremo reiterated that the BJP government is indulging in creating a social divide and “people must now ponder whether they should commit the mistake of re-electing it”.
The 79-year old leader said that minorities face many problems which need to be resolved and it is the responsibility of the BJP government at the Centre to take everyone together.
All the people in the country enjoy full rights, even Indians living in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and others who migrated post-Independence, and wish to return to India, but this is not acceptable to the BJP government, he said.
Dwelling on CAA-NRC, Pawar said it is not only detrimental to the Muslim community but also the nomadic tribes and migrant communities who don’t reside in any one location, and hence don’t have any documents.
Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Ajit Pawar, Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil, Minorities Affairs Minister Nawab Malik, central NCP leaders Majeed Memon, Gaffar Malik, Shabbir Vidrohi and others addressed the meet and assured the Maharashtra government would ensure “equality and justice to people of all religions”.
Ajit Pawar, Patil and Malik admitted that while there are small hiccups in running the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance government, but there would be no hurdles in implementing welfare schemes for the minorities.
In a sharp reaction, BJP state Vice-President Kirit Somaiya said that after Congress’ Ashok Chavan, Sharad Pawar now speaks up for Muslims and tries to appease them.
“Will Shiv Sena still follow both these alliance partners,” he asked.
Somaiya was referring to Chavan’s statement that most Muslims reportedly considered the BJP as their biggest enemy, and wanted the Congress to join the Shiv Sena-led government to keep the BJP away from power.
After the BJP attacked him, Chavan later clarified that the Congress was under pressure from all communities, including Muslims, to form the government with the Sena to keep out the BJP, hence there was no question of “appeasement.