Even as many of his party colleagues have joined or are about to join the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena, NCP president Sharad Pawar shared the stage with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis here on Tuesday. The veteran politician praised Fadnavis for his oratory. The occasion was release of “Vidhan Gatha”, a book penned by Congress leader Harshvardhan Patil on his experiences as the state parliamentary affairs minister in the previous Congress-NCP regime.
Speaking as chief guest, Pawar said he underwent a surgery of tongue and throat at 9 pm on Monday. “I was advised not to speak or travel. But given the prevailing political situation, I decided to come,” he said.
“Otherwise there would be talk that I am accompanying (state BJP minister) Girish Mahajan to meet (BJP chief) Amit Shah,” Pawar said, drawing a laughter. Three NCP MLAs resigned as legislators earlier in the day and are likely to join the BJP.
Former chief ministers Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan, Sushilkumar Shinde, NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal and several others were also present at the function. Pawar recalled how he had come to the legislature as a visitor when he was young and was thrown out for sitting cross-legged in the visitors’ gallery.
“I resolved to come again as MLA, and my legislature and parliamentary innings spanned 52 years,” he said. Fadnavis was among the good speakers he had encountered, Pawar said, while also praising the oratory of Peasants and Workers Party’s Uddhavrao Patil and former chief minister Narayan Rane.
“I have read Fadnavis’s speeches on Budget. All these three speakers make in-depth study of the subject and present their points elaborately. In Parliament, there were Vajpayee and George Fernandes (who spoke well),” Pawar said. Fadnavis described Patil’s book as a handbook on the legislature’s functioning.
“Harshvardhan Patil shared good equation with everybody, primarily because he was a minister in the Sena-BJP government between 1995-99 as well as in the Congress-NCP government (which followed).
“We in the opposition used to call him ‘suspension minister’, because he would suspend all opposition members citing unruly behaviour. But he would also get the suspension revoked at the earliest,” Fadnavis said.
“He holds the record of suspending Girish Mahajan (now a powerful cabinet minister) for a record number of times,” the chief minister said. In his speech, Patil asked Mahajan jockingly not to harbour a grudge.
Speaking earlier, Ashok Chavan said at one time, parliamentary affairs minister would be “a trusted aide” of the chief minister. “I don’t know the situation now,” he said. Fadnavis latched onto this and at the start of his speech addressed current parliamentary affairs minister Vinod Tawde as “my trusted aide”.
Incidentally, during the latest cabinet reshuffle, Fadnavis had taken away portfolios like sports and school education from Tawde.