Setting aside their ideological differences, all political parties in Maharashtra have decided to join hands in their battle against India Against Corruption crusader Arvind Kejriwal. From Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, all leaders went public simultaneously to expose IAC’s “lies”.
Taking a guarded stand, Pawar was the first to put up a spirited defence for arch-rival BJP president Nitin Gadkari, who has been accused of receiving illegal favours in land allotment from the Congress-NCP government, by raising questions about the IAC’s functioning. In a veiled attack, Pawar said, “Everybody has the right to make charges, provided there is substance [to them]. But if the charges are false, the individuals should be prosecuted.”
According to Thackeray, “Kejriwal’s one-point agenda is to malign the politician (Gadkari). It is irresponsible to level corruption charges against an honest politician like Gadkari.”
In about 24 hours, all mainstream parties — the Congress, the BJP, the Shiv Sena and the NCP — held core committee meetings to evolve a strategy to effectively counter the IAC.
Highly-placed sources told DNA, “Emissaries of the Congress, the NCP, the BJP and the Sena held back room discussions to decide on calling the IAC’s bluff in the coming days.”
Second-rung leaders of each of these parties have been told to make public appearances to “expose” the IAC. A BJP general secretary said, “We are consulting and sharing information with our rival parties to ensure there are no contradictions when it comes to arguing against the IAC.”
The Congress and the NCP, which were wary of the IAC seeking clandestine support from the BJP and the RSS when it began its ‘exposés’, are now reassured that Kejriwal & Co are working on their own to gain public support.
The IAC’s corruption charges against Gadkari helped Congress and NCP exploit the developments to their advantage by winning over rival BJP. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said, “My administration will ensure accountability, if anything wrong has been done. But nobody has the right to make unsubstantiated allegations against any party or leader.”
Industries minister Narayan Rane asserted that the state had not violated any norm while granting permission to the Lavasa hill station project. The IAC and its associates had slammed Pawar and his nephew, Ajit, for both irrigation and hill station projects.