NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday claimed the Centre "failed 100 per cent" in tackling the problems of inflation and unemployment, while issues like Ayodhya visit by some people and chanting prayers were taking precedence. "Going to Ayodhya is not a national issue," Pawar told reporters in Kolhapur.
Pawar also said he not come across an instance of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducting raids on those part of the central government, but action was being taken against those in opposition.
Recently, MNS chief Raj Thackeray, who had stirred a row over his call for removal of loudspeakers on mosques, said he will visit Ayodhya on June 5 to seek blessings of Lord Ram. Notably, Maharashtra Tourism Minister and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray had also earlier said he would visit Ayodhya.
Pawar said issues like Ayodhya visit and reciting prayers are taking priority, instead of focus on handling inflation, unemployment, and law and order issues. The Narendra Modi government had given assurances to people over issues like inflation and unemployment when it came to power in 2014. But, they have "failed 100 per cent" and people will recover the cost from them at the right time, he claimed.
"While the common man is facing all these issues, those in power at the Centre are not ready to pay attention to these issues, and to divert the attention of people from these issues, such things related to religion are been encouraged," said the NCP chief, whose party shares power with the Shiv Sena and Congress in Maharashtra as part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
On the sedition law and the Centre's submission in the Supreme Court that it has decided to go for re-consideration of its provisions by a “competent forum”, Pawar said he has already stated before the Koregaon-Bhima Inquiry Commission that the law is "archaic" and was used by Britishers (then ruling India) against those who revolted against them. "We are now an independent country and every person has the right to raise his voice against any issue," Pawar said.
The NCP leader said he has read that the Centre told the SC that they will re-look into the law. "If this is true, then it is good," he added.
Asked if the ED raids had come down in Maharashtra, Pawar said he does not know if the number of raids has decreased. "But, I have not read anywhere that the ED conducted raids on people who are part of the central government. On the contrary, action against the opposition is going on," he said.
On Union Home Minister Amit Shah's statement that the next census will be an 'e-census' (electronic census), Pawar said he has heard about it, but there is a need to ask what exactly is the 'e-census'.
To a query on bringing up an alternative front against the BJP, Pawar said discussions on the issue are going on. "Every party should take the decision internally. For example, the Congress's 'Chintan' camp is going on and I think they will also come up with some conclusions. Other parties are also discussing it," he said.
Asked if there was an "opposition face" against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pawar stated," It cannot be said now. In some places, there are differences amongst us (opposition parties). In the West Bengal elections, Mamata ( Banerjee) and we were together, but the Congress and communists were on the other side. Had the Congress, communists, Mamata and we been together, we would have seen a more different picture," he said.
In Kerala, the Congress fights polls separately, but the communists and NCP are together. "We need to address this issue and the process is going on," he added.
On the possibility of an alliance among MVA parties ahead of local body elections in Maharashtra, Pawar said there are two opinions in his party on the issue. "Some (NCP members) think we should fight elections on our own symbol and after the election, we can sit together and decide (on alliance), but some people say since we are running the government together, we also should face the elections together. But, no final decision has been made on this issue," said Pawar.
Asked if the Centre's perspective towards Maharashtra has changed after the MVA came to power in the state, Pawar said there is an observation that there is a delay in getting the Centre's response on valid issues of the state. "The highest collection of taxes is from Maharashtra. The outstanding of Maharashtra's share of tax (GST compensation) is yet to be received from the Centre. If that share is not received in time, it adversely affects development works in the state," he added.