Cong puts up brave face after Pawar clarifies

Cong puts up brave face after Pawar clarifies

NCP workers raise slogans and placards during a protest against the alleged scam in Rafale deal, in Thane, on Friday. PTI

Putting up a brave face over NCP supremo Sharad Pawar's reported clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal, the Congress on Friday concurred with the veteran leader that his remarks over the fighter jet contract were distorted by the BJP to drive a wedge between the long-standing allies.

As BJP chief Amit Shah lauded Pawar's reported clean chit to Modi, AICC General Secretary Mallikarjun Kharge dialed the NCP chief to get a better understanding of his statements on the Rafale deal.

Pawar told Kharge that the remarks were reported out of context and that it was part of a BJP conspiracy to drive a wedge between the Congress and the NCP.

NCP chief told Kharge, the Congress minder for Maharashtra, that he stood by the Congress demand for a joint parliamentary probe into the Rafale aircraft purchase and has also questioned the price escalation of the fighter jets.

“This is a conspiracy to create differences between the Congress and the NCP,” Randeep Singh Surjewala, in-charge of the AICC Communication Department, said here.

Surjewala said the NCP leadership also conveyed to Kharge that the youth wing of Pawar's outfit had carried out a demonstration against the Rafale deal at several places in Maharashtra on Friday.

Pawar also expressed surprise at the BJP which had demanded not only the price of the Bofors guns but also its specifications was shying away from a JPC probe into the deal. “After the discussions between Pawar and Kharge, nothing else matters,” Surjewala said.

The Congress had viewed Pawar with suspicion, particularly after the Modi government came to power. Modi had visited Baramati in 2016 and even hailed Pawar as his guru, remarks that took the political circles by surprise. A year later, the government also honoured Pawar with Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award.

However, as the Lok Sabha elections draw nearer, Pawar had made it known to his partymen as well as friends across the political spectrum that he would work towards ousting Modi from power.

Pawar, whose prime ministerial ambitions have kept political circles abuzz for years, also declared that he would play the role of an elder statesman in forging an anti-Modi alliance.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox