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Outsiders criticising our government over Kejriwal’s arrest: Sharad Pawar

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Satara, Mar 29 (PTI) Veteran politician Sharad Pawar, who heads the NCP (SP), claimed on Friday that the media across the world has taken note of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest.

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“It is not good that outsiders are criticising our government. But such a situation was created by the government (itself),” he said in a press conference in Maharashtra’s Satara.

The Enforcement Directorate on March 21 arrested Kejriwal in the alleged Delhi excise policy-linked scam. He has been remanded in ED's custody till April 1.

“What is Kejriwal’s crime? He framed a liquor policy, something that is done by all states. Delhi is the country’s capital and its chief minister is arrested,” said the 83-year-old NCP founder.

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Pawar said a tribal chief minister from Jharkhand has been in jail for the past three months, referring to the arrest of Hemant Soren in a money laundering case.

“Just because he (Kejriwal) framed a liquor policy, a chief minister has been arrested and two (of his) ministers are already in jail. If this is not dictatorship then what is it? We have to fight against it,” he said.

Pawar said all opposition parties will hold a rally at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on March 31 against Kejriwal’s arrest.

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The US on Wednesday said it follows "these actions closely, including the arrest of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal" and stressed that it encourages fair, transparent, timely legal processes and “we don’t think anyone should object to that”. India has termed the remarks “unwarranted”.

On March 23, India had summoned the German deputy chief of mission in Delhi and lodged a strong protest against that country’s foreign ministry’s remarks on the arrest of the Delhi chief minister.

Pawar said the sitting Satara MP Shrinivas Patil won’t contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections due to health reasons.

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In the 2019 general elections, Udayanraje Bhosale, a descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, won in Satara on an NCP ticket but later switched over to the BJP, necessitating a bypoll. Bhosale had also won the seat in 2009 and 2014 as an NCP nominee.

In that bypoll, Sharad Pawar, who then headed the undivided NCP, fielded Patil and rallied behind him to ensure his victory.

Pawar said on Friday that Patil’s replacement would be finalised in a day or two.

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“Shashikant Shinde, Balasaheb Patil and Sunil Mane’s names are being considered,” he said.

To a question whether former Maharashtra chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan would be a candidate for the constituency, Pawar said Satara is an NCP seat and will remain with his party.

Replying to a query on the Madha seat in Solapur district, Pawar said he wanted a candidate from the Dhangar (shepherd) community and had spoken to its member and Rashtriya Samaj Party chief Mahadev Jankar Mahadev Jankar.

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“He too responded but don't know what happened,” Pawar said referring to Jankar stating that he would remain with the BJP-led Mahayuti alliance in Maharashtra. The two leaders had met a few days ago.

Asked about the meeting of the opposition bloc MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) in Mumbai on Thursday, Pawar said the allies – NCP (SP), Congress and Shiv Sena (UBT) – discussed programmes and strategies for their campaign ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

“A small committee headed by Prithviraj Chavan has been set up to work on a common minimum programme,” he said.

Pawar said he still feels that Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, led by Prakash Ambedkar, should be a part of the MVA.

Elections to Maharashtra's 48 Lok Sabha seats will be held in five phases between April 19 and May 20. PTI MR NR

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