Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday appealed to NCP (SP) President Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena (UBT) President Uddhav Thackeray to join the BJP-led alliance and “fulfil dreams with dignity” after the Lok Sabha elections instead of “merging” with the Congress. Pawar responded by suggesting that the Prime Minister’s statements indicate a realisation that the BJP is facing potential losses in the elections. He implied that the PM’s remarks are a sign of restlessness, aimed at creating confusion.

Addressing an election rally at Nandurbar in Maharashtra, Modi, without naming Sharad Pawar, said that the veteran leader is worried after the elections in Baramati and has made a statement that smaller parties would merge with the Congress after the LS elections. Modi said that Pawar must have made this statement after discussions with his colleagues. 

“He is so desperate and disheartened that he feels that after June 4, small parties should merge with Congress if they have to survive in public and political life. It means that nakli NCP and nakli Shiv Sena have mentally prepared themselves to merge with the Congress. Instead of dying by joining the Congress after June 4, proudly come with Ajit dada (Pawar) and (Eknath) Shindeji, all your dreams will be fulfilled with dignity,” said PM Modi.

This is the first time PM Modi has openly appealed to Sharad Pawar and Thackeray during the election campaign to join the BJP-led alliance.

‘Modi is Restless’

Sharad Pawar, speaking to reporters in Jalna, said, “Parliamentary democracy is in danger because of Modi. Arrests of Delhi and Jharkhand Chief Ministers were impossible without the central leadership’s and government’s involvement. I would not get associated with such a party where the person (PM Modi), party (BJP) and ideology don’t believe in parliamentary democracy.”

Pawar said that in the first few phases of the elections, it was clear that people’s mood was against Modi’s ideology and that’s why he is restless and creating confusion. Pawar said that PM Modi’s recent public speeches are targeting the minority community which would divide the country. “Such a divide is dangerous for the country and where there is such ideology, I would not be with them,” said Pawar. 

BJP’s Efforts

Having orchestrated a split within Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena and Sharad Pawar’s NCP, the BJP elevated Eknath Shinde, a splinter Sena leader, to the position of Chief Minister. BJP later accommodated rebel NCP leader Ajit Pawar as Deputy Chief Minister. BJP leaders in the State were confident that they would easily win the Lok Sabha elections with Shinde and Pawar junior by their side. However, Sharad Pawar, along with Uddhav Thackeray and the Congress, presented a significant challenge in the elections.

PM Modi’s statement in Nandurbar is being interpreted as an olive branch to the Pawar and Thackeray factions, should the BJP require the support of other parties to secure the numbers needed to form the government.