NCP chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar Sunday lashed out at BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, terming him "a myopic politician" and "an ignoramus who does not have an iota of knowledge of the country's history".
"How can any person with a myopic view and harbouring intense parochial attitude even think of leading the nation," the Nationalist Congress Party leader said at a large election rally in Navi Mumbai.
Pawar said that during last year's drought in Gujarat, the state government was compelled to lodge a complaint against its own people in Mehsana for providing cattle feed to the affected areas. "What were the charges? That of corruption ... that feed stocks had been diverted," he said.
Taking jibes at Modi's ignorance of Indian history, the NCP chief said that last week in Wardha, the Gujarat chief minister kept on saying that the historic 'Quit India' call was given from Mahatma Gandhi's Sewagram Ashram in Wardha. "As we all know, the historical fact is that the call for 'Quit India' was given from the August Kranti Maidan in August 1942. Both Gandhiji and Jawaharlal Nehru were jailed for that. What should one say about a PM candidate who does not have the basic knowledge of history," Pawar said.
On selecting a prime minister, Pawar said: "This is the first time we have a party approaching the elections with a PM candidate. It is the job of the elected members of parliament to choose a candidate for the top post. That is the tradition."
Earlier, at a convention in Navi Mumbai, Pawar made a strange suggestion to headloaders (porters) -- to indulge in double voting in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections!
As a controversy erupted over the remark, Pawar said he made the comment in a lighter vein and intended to inspire the porters to vote as some of them were registered in Mumbai-Thane and others in Satara. "First, it was not an election rally or public meeting, but a convention of head-loaders to mark the 32nd death anniversary of the late leader Annasaheb Patil. Second, my expression on erasing the indelible ink was purely in humour and not at all suggestive of any act in breach of electoral rules," Pawar told media persons.
At the convention of headloaders - or "mathadi kamgaar" as they are locally known - Pawar said in jest that this time the elections in Satara and Mumbai will be held on different dates. So, the headloaders should first go to their respective villages in Satara, from where a majority of them hail, and vote in the polls April 17. They should then return to Mumbai and exercise their franchise in the polls in the coastal metropolis April 24, he said. "But ensure that you erase the indelible ink on your finger. Otherwise, there could be trouble," Pawar, normally known to be a balanced and sober speaker, said jokingly.
Leader of opposition in the state legislative council Vinod Tawade of the BJP said Pawar's comment could be related to the Election Commission provisions pertaining to bogus voting and he would lodge a complaint with the poll panel. Pawar said he did not intend to suggest that in the exercise of franchise, any act be committed which violates the electoral laws and rules. "I emphasise and reiterate the same," he said.