Uddhav Thackeray advises Pawar to rejoin Congress

April 16th, 2008 - 12:52 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Mumbai, April 15 (IANS) Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray Tuesday said Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar should now rejoin the Congress party as the “purpose of its existence” had come to an end. “Pawar’s newfound willingness to support Congress president Sonia Gandhi as prime minister in spite of her foreign origin, which was the reason for his breaking away from the party and forming his own ‘nationalist’ outfit means the NCP has lost its purpose,” Thackeray told a press conference in his party office.

The Shiv Sena executive chief’s remarks against his father’s old friend came as a reaction to NCP spokesperson Praful Patel’s reported statement that his party would not mind supporting Sonia Gandhi or her son Rahul as prime minister if the Congress elected either for the post after the next general elections.

While advising Pawar to go back to Congress, Thackeray ruled out the NCP’s tie-up with Shiv Sena, a possibility rumoured last year following his father Bal Thackeray’s commendation of Pawar as the ‘right’ candidate for the prime minister’s post and a meeting between the two leaders.

“Our support (for prime minister) is reserved for (Bharatiya Janata Party leader) Advani-ji,” Thackeray Jr. said.

The Shiv Sena chief also trained his guns at his estranged cousin, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray without naming him.

“The parties which do not have any programme of their own can do no better than stealing issues from other parties,” he said, alluding to the MNS crusade against north Indians.

“The Shiv Sena’s commitment to the cause of safeguarding ‘Marathi’ interests is well-known and the party hardly needs to reiterate it,” he said.

Thackeray announced the entry of Congress rebel Vaibhav Naik into the Shiv Sena along with 50 of his followers from Kankavali in Konkan region’s Sindhudurg district.

The scion of a family with a long-running feud with Narayan Rane - Kankavali is Rane’s hometown, Vaibhav won the recent municipal election in the town as a Congress rebel and was expelled from the party following the act of indiscipline.

Vaibhav’s uncle Shridhar Naik was murdered in 1991 and Narayan Rane was an accused in the case from which he was subsequently acquitted. The young Congress rebel’s father Vijay had unsuccessfully contested the 1995 assembly election on a Congress ticket against Rane, then a Shiv Sena candidate.

Rane has since joined Congress and weaned seven Shiv Sena MLAs to the party in the last two years.

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