Mumbai, Oct 27 (PTI) Nationalist Congress Party leader Supriya Sule on Friday said it was the Narendra Modi government that had given Sharad Pawar the Padma Vibhushan, the country's second highest civilian award, for his work in the agriculture sector, the statement coming a day after the prime minister questioned the NCP founder's contribution to farmers.
During his address in Shirdi in Ahmednagar district on Thursday, Modi, without naming Pawar, had said, "Some people in Maharashtra only did politics in the name of farmers. A senior leader of Maharashtra served as the country's agriculture minister. I personally respect him, but what has he done for farmers?" Pawar served as the agriculture minister when the Congress-led UPA government was in office at the Centre (2004-14). Modi had also said when Pawar was the Union agriculture minister, farmers were at the mercy of middlemen.
Talking to reporters in Sindhdurg district, Sule said whenever the prime minister came to Maharashtra, he dubbed the NCP as "Naturally Corrupt Party". On Thursday, Modi didn't link NCP to corruption like he used to before.
"Pawar saheb was given the Padman Vibhushan by the Modi government for his work in agriculture and politics," Baramati MP Sule pointed out.
Earlier in the day, former state minister Anil Deshmukh said Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar should have left the dais in protest in Shirdi or corrected Modi when the PM questioned Sharad Pawar's contribution to the farming community.
Speaking to reporters in Nagpur, Deshmukh, who belongs to the Sharad Pawar faction of the NCP, said, "Ajit Dada should have left the dais (in protest) or given proper information to PM Modi so that he could correct his statement (against Sharad Pawar)." Deshmukh pointed out that PM Modi has in the past praised Sharad Pawar for his contribution to the farming community.
Deshmukh alleged Modi has now changed his stand ahead of the elections and demanded that the PM correct his statement with regard to Sharad Pawar.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray said, "When Manmohan Singh was prime minister and Sharad Pawar was agriculture minister (during UPA rule between 2004 and 2014), loans worth Rs 70,000 crore of farmers were waived." Thackeray further said he expected PM Modi to speak on the Maratha quota issue, but he did not.
The NCP split on July 2 after Ajit Pawar and eight MLAs joined the Eknath Shinde government. PTI CLS PR NR BNM BNM