Targeting the BJP-led Centre, NCP President Sharad Pawar on Monday said that the move to evict Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from her government residence in Delhi is a "display of NDA government's arrogance of power".
"We must remember that the Nehru-Gandhi family has dedicated its life for the country. Jawaharlal Nehru made immense contribution to India's freedom struggle and put it on the path of democracy. His daughter Indira Gandhi and grandson Rajiv Gandhi sacrificed their lives for the country. Priyanka is from the same family," said Pawar.
Even after Rajiv Gandhi's death, his wife Sonia Gandhi built the party and though there may be political differences, "that doesn't mean that you can misuse the power to harass someone; that's not wise or honourable," the Nationalist Congress Party leader said.
The NCP chief said "petty politics" is being witnessed in the country, and recalled how, when Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister, whenever he organised a conference of chief ministers, the BJP would hold separate meetings of the BJP-ruled CMs.
"In those meetings, the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would use very strong language against Singh. That was unprecedented -- how a state CM could adopt such a vindictive attitude towards the country's PM," Pawar recalled.
Today, he added, with the BJP ruling at the Centre, Singh has never taken to heart the criticism he faces. Even when Modi as CM would criticize the PM, Manmohan Singh never vent his anger at Gujarat, the former Union Minister added.
Recounting his own experiences, Pawar said that when he was the Union Agriculture Minister, some Congress leaders would grumble that even though Modi criticised the PM so much, 'we are going out of the way to help Gujarat', but Manmohan Singh stood by him (Pawar), saying "Gujarat is a part of India and it is our duty to protect every Indian and every state".
"Today, the situation has changed. All we see is -- bring down this state government, topple that state government. Now, we are seeing this in Rajasthan. Some (BJP) leaders keep talking like this even for Maharashtra. BJP's 'Operation Kamal' is misuse of power by the Centre to destabilise, weaken and bring down the government elected by the peoples' mandate," Pawar said.
However, he expressed confidence that 'Operation Kamal' will not affect the Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in Maharashtra, though the BJP has been giving deadlines, and the next one is October.
Pawar's no-holds-barred response came in the final instalment of his three-part marathon interview to 'Saamana' and 'Dopahar Ka Saamana' Group's Executive Editor Sanjay Raut.
He cautioned that though Thackeray is doing a good job as CM, there is a need for "enhanced dialogue" among the three allies - Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress -- for smoother functioning of the MVA government.
To Raut's query, Pawar revealed that his 2014 statement to offer outside support to the BJP was actually aimed at keeping the Shiv Sena out of the government since they both (BJP-Sena) had fought elections separately.
"When it became possible that a post-poll alliance could materialise, I made that statement. But it didn't work out and later the Sena joined the government and it completed its full term," said Pawar.
Justifying his politics, the NCP chief said that handing out power to BJP again in (2019) was not in the interests of the Sena or other political party "since the BJP doesn't believe that other (non-BJP) parties have a right to function in a democracy".
Pawar dismissed Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis' recent claims on this issue and hit back, saying that prior to the 2019 government formation, the BJP had approached NCP to form the government as it did not want Shiv Sena to come to power.