BJP-NCP ties look up as Pawar hosts Jaitley at Baramati

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and NCP leader Sharad Pawar during the  inauguration of  the new building of College of Agriculture and Allied Science in Baramati.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and NCP leader Sharad Pawar during the inauguration of the new building of College of Agriculture and Allied Science in Baramati.

Mumbai - While the Shiv Sena has been showering abuse on its longtime partner the BJP and even the NCP in recent days, Arun Jaitley, the finance minister and senior BJP leader, was being hosted at Baramati by Sharad Pawar, the NCP chief.

By Nithin Belle

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Published: Sun 18 Oct 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 18 Oct 2015, 1:44 PM

 Even as ties between the BJP and the Shiv Sena deteriorates, the former continues to maintain good equations with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which is eager to fill the breach caused by a possible desertion of the National Democratic Alliance by the Sena.
While the Shiv Sena has been showering abuse on its longtime partner the BJP and even the NCP in recent days, Arun Jaitley, the finance minister and senior BJP leader, was being hosted at Baramati by Sharad Pawar, the NCP chief.
Jaitley, who stayed at Pawar's home near Baramati on Friday night, spent the whole of Saturday with the Maratha leader, praising his work in developing the backward district in western Maharashtra. Jaitley said Pawar had over the past half century strived to develop what was once the most backward district into one of the most progressive in the country.
Barmati, more than 250 km south-east of Mumbai, is the pocket borough of the Pawar family. Thanks to his dominance of Maharashtra politics over the past 50 years, Pawar has ensured huge inflow of investment (both Indian and international) into Baramati, the setting up of higher educational institutions and a flourishing agro-based industry in the city.
Jaitley promised Pawar that the central government would provide all support to the veteran Maratha leader, especially his suggestions on developing agriculture. He also praised the thriving dairy industry in Baramati, describing it as being world-class. Pawar, 75, who has often had a bitter relationship with longtime ally the Congress - he walked out of the Congress after the party toyed with the idea of projecting Italy-born Sonia Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate about 15 years ago - was the agriculture minister in the United Progressive Alliance government in Delhi. The two leaders later visited Pune on Saturday. In fact, Pawar was present at Pune airport on Friday to receive the finance minister. A few months ago, Pawar had also hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Baramati. When the BJP emerged as the single-largest party in Maharashtra last year after the assembly elections, the NCP offered unconditional support to it to ensure that it could run the government. The Sena, which was hoping to extract lucrative cabinet portfolios from the BJP - which did not have a majority in the legislature - felt humiliated. Later, it accepted whatever portfolios the BJP gave it.
However, ties between the two saffron partners have sunk to new lows in recent weeks over a host of issues. A restless Sena has defied the BJP on several occasions, though it has still not decided to quit the government.
A few days ago, the Sena unleashed a vicious campaign against Pawar, accusing him of being "a blood-sucking leech." It taunted Pawar that while he quit the Congress on the issue of Sonia Gandhi's leadership of the party, he did not mind eating "Italian pizza with her for 10 years."
Pawar had earlier said that the Sena was hungry for power and would not dare to leave the government. BJP's critics also accuse the party of going slow on the probe into corruption charges against NCP leaders including Ajit Pawar, Sharadrao's nephew, and Chhagan Bhujbal, as it wants to maintain good relationship with the party and seek its help if the Sena abandons the NDA. nithin@khaleejtimes.com 



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