Targeting the Bharatiya Janata Party, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has said that politicians should not take voters for granted as even powerful leaders like Indira Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee had been defeated in elections.
Criticising former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over his "Mi punha yein" (I will come back) claim during the last year's assembly polls, Sharad Pawar said that voters thought that this stance showed arrogance and felt that they should be taught a lesson.
Mr Pawar also said that that there was not an "iota of truth" in reports about differences in the three ruling allies - Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress - that are part of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).
The former Union minister said this in an interview by Shiv Sena leader and Executive Editor of party mouthpiece 'Saamana'. The first of the three-part interview series was published in the Marathi daily today.
This is for the first time that a non-Shiv Sena leader has featured in a marathon interview series in the party mouthpiece. It has so far published marathon interviews of late Bal Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray.
Replying to a query over BJP's defeat in the last assembly polls in the state, Mr Pawar said, "In a democracy, you cannot think that you will remain in power eternally. Voters will not tolerate if they are taken for granted. Powerful leaders mass base with like Indira Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee had been defeated."
"It means that in terms of the democratic rights, the common man is wiser than the politicians. If we politicians cross the line, he teaches us a lesson. Therefore, people do not like the stand that 'we will come back to power'," he said.
"No politician should take people for granted. Nobody should take a stand that he would return to power. People thought that this stand smacks of arrogance and hence feeling grew among them that they should be taught a lesson," Mr Pawar said.
He said the change of government in Maharashtra was not an accident.
"People of Maharashtra voted in line of the sentiment prevailing in the country during the national elections. But the mood changed during the assembly polls. Even though BJP did well in the Lok Sabha polls, it fared poorly in assembly elections in different states. Even people of Maharashtra voted for a change," he said.
Replying to a query over his reported differences with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on the lockdown in the state, Mr Pawar said, "Absolutely not. What differences? For what? During the entire period of lockdown, I have had excellent communication with the Chief Minister and continue to do so." Mr Pawar, who played a key role in bringing together the Sena, Congress and NCP for formation of government in the state in November last year, said.
He blamed the media and said sarcastically that the news gathering activity had been hit by the coronavirus-induced lockdown and they had the responsibility to fill the pages of newspapers.
"I have been reading reports of growing differences among the three allies, but there is not an iota of truth in that," he said.
Speaking about the style of functioning of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray, Mr Pawar said, "Although Balasaheb was never in the seat of power, he was the driving force behind the power. He got power in Maharashtra due to his ideology."
"Today, the government is not because of the ideology. But the responsibility of implementing that power now lies with Uddhav Thackeray," he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)