NCP president Sharad Pawar on Thursday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "doob maro" jibe directed at the Opposition in connection with the scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and said there was no need to talk about bringing back the controversial provision.
Addressing a poll rally in Niphad here in North Maharashtra, Pawar asked Modi why he was daring Opposition leaders to bring back Article 370 of the Constitution after it was nullified by Parliament in August.
Pawar also hit out at Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for saying that public sector banks had the "worst phase" under the combination of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan.
The Maratha strongman was a senior member of the Manmohan Singh-led cabinet from 2004 to 2014.
The NDA government also came under attack from the veteran leader over India lagging behind neighbouring Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) and asked if it augured well for the country.
Modi had on Wednesday slammed Opposition leaders, seeking a link between the scrapping of Article 370 and the Maharashtra Assembly polls, and told them to go drown (doob maro) for criticising the nullification of the constitutional provision that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
"How can they (Opposition) say that Jammu and Kashmir have nothing to do with Maharashtra? They should be ashamed of such thoughts. Don't they have any shame? Doob maro," the PM had said, using the two-word phrase in Hindi.
Referring to the comment, Pawar said, "Parliament abrogated Article 370. Modi sahib took the initiative. We do not oppose that. Some people kept forth their views on the issue, but they were labelled by some as anti-national. They become anti-nationals?"
"The prime minister yesterday said 'doob maro'. He dares us to bring Article 370 back. It was decided to scrap Article 370, Parliament scrapped it and now why are you now talking about bringing it back?" he questioned.
The former Union minister further said that there were several issues concerning the people, yet BJP leaders were constantly harping on the revocation of Article 370.
The only answer BJP leaders had for any of the people's issue was Article 370, Pawar quipped.
"It was good that you took the decision (scrapping of Article 370). We do not approve of your statement that Article 370 be brought back. There is no need to bring it back. We will be happy if the people of Kashmir get some rights," the former defence minister said.
On Sitharaman's remark, Pawar said, "Are these people not aware of the tradition of this country? We never criticise the prime minister when abroad. They should also be mindful of this tradition."
Sitharaman had made the remarks while delivering a lecture at Columbia University in the US.
On India slipping to 102nd position on the GHI of 117 countries and falling behind Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the former Union agriculture minister said, "Children from the country which exports food grain do not get food to eat. This news is published world over, the country has to face such ignominy on these people's watch."
Pawar targeted the BJP-led government in Maharashtra over farmer suicides and job losses in the state, saying it did not pay attention to these key issues.
Maharashtra, which has a 288-member Assembly, will vote on October 21 and results will be announced on October 24.