Sharad Pawar and Sena leaders Uddhav, Aaditya Thackeray at a press conference in Mumbai. (Express photo: Pradip Das)
Discord in Maharashtra’s ruling coalition over the National Population Register (NPR) and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) grew a day after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Addressing the media following his meeting with Modi on Friday, Thackeray had reasserted his position in favour of CAA and NPR. His allies in Maharashtra government — the Congress and the NCP — are both opposed to their implementation.
On Thackeray’s return to Mumbai on Saturday, NCP president Sharad Pawar held an hour-long deliberation with the CM at the latter’s official residence. Sources said differences between the allies over CAA and NPR were the mainstay of the deliberations. “It was decided that leaders from the three parties will sit together to discuss the difference and remove angularities,” a source said.
On NPR, sources said it was decided that the additional questionnaire shared by the Centre will first be discussed between the allies, and objections, if any, would be conveyed to the Centre.
Pawar’s nephew and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, state NCP president and Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil, and Sena MP Sanjay Raut were also present in the meeting.
Indications that the Congress leadership was miffed with Thackeray’s public posturing on NPR and CAA also came on Saturday. Congress MP and former Union minister Manish Tewari tweeted, “...Uddhav Thackeray requires a briefing on Citizenship Amendment Rules - 2003 to understand how NPR is basis of NRC. Once you do NPR, you cannot stop NRC. On Citizenship Amendment Act, he needs to be reacquainted with design of Indian Constitution that religion cannot be basis of Citizenship.”
While Thackeray has denied any rift among the constituents of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, senior Congress leaders said the party high command was upset with Thackeray for having addressed the media immediately after his meeting with the PM before consulting the alliance partners.
The Congress, however, is hopeful that it will be able to convince the Sena regarding its stance. State Congress president and Revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat said, “The party’s stand on CAA, NRC, and the NPR is very clear — we are opposed to these. We are opposed to anything that causes discrimination in the society or alters our rich diversity. We will convince our alliance partners.”
State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh of the NCP said any decision on implementation of CAA and NPR in the state will be taken only after the issue is discussed at the state-level coordination committee between the allies.