Amid strains in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi alliance over Rahul Gandhi’s strident criticism of V D Savarkar, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has stepped in to play the peacemaker by conveying the Shiv Sena’s concerns on the issue to the Congress leadership.
Opposition leaders said Congress has agreed to tone down its criticism of Savarkar, which has led to unease among the NCP and Shiv Sena, its alliance partners in Maharashtra.
Pawar raised the issue during a meeting of opposition leaders convened by Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday evening and made it clear that targeting Savarkar, a revered figure in Maharashtra, would not help the opposition alliance in the state, two leaders who attended the meeting told PTI.
Former Congress Presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were present at the meeting along with leaders of opposition parties. Pawar also told Rahul Gandhi that Savarkar was never a member of the RSS and underscored that the real fight of the opposition parties was with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP. As the BJP stepped up attack on Rahul Gandhi and sought his apology for “maligning” India on his recent tour to the UK, the former Lok Sabha member from Wayanad had said that he was not Savarkar and would not apologise.
Former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had slammed Gandhi for his attack on Savarkar and said his outfit will not tolerate any insult of the freedom fighter. The Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena had skipped the meeting convened by Kharge as a mark of protest against Gandhi’s remarks targeting Savarkar.