- Udayanraje Bhosale was NCP candidate for national polls, he joined BJP
- Sharad Pawar continued to address the crowd in Satara despite heavy rain
- Satara Lok Sabha bypoll on October 21 along with Maharashtra state polls
Soaked in rain, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar admitted on Friday that he made "a mistake" in choosing the candidate for the national elections in Maharashtra's Satara, the party stronghold, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the NCP patriarch for not "having the courage" to contest the Lok Sabha polls from the parliamentary constituency.
"They don't even have the courage to contest even Lok Sabha elections from Satara," PM Modi said addressing a rally in Satara on Thursday as he targeted the 80-year-old NCP leader. He accused the opposition parties in Maharashtra of playing divisive politics after the centre scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August.
"Sharad Rao (Pawar) is Sharad Rao (Pawar). He knows the direction of the wind that's why he clearly refused," PM Modi was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
In the national elections held earlier this year, the NCP had fielded Udayanraje Bhosale, Shivaji Maharaj's descendant, from the Satara parliamentary seat. Mr Bhosale, who won the seat, quit the party ahead of Maharashtra state elections and joined the BJP, which has fielded him for the by-election.
Admitting a lapse in judgement, Mr Pawar on Friday said: "When one makes a mistake, one should admit it. I made a mistake while selecting candidate for the Lok Sabha poll. I accept this publicly. But I am happy that to correct the mistake, every young and old person in Satara is waiting for October 21," he added.
The NCP patriarch continued to address the crowd despite heavy rain. "The rain god has blessed the NCP for the October 21 election. And with the blessings of the rain god, Satara district will create a miracle in Maharashtra. That miracle will begin from October 21," he told the gathering.
He drew praise on social media for not stopping his speech despite getting drenched.
"#SharadPawar His speech in the torrential rain shows that " Man can be destroyed but not defeated". I salute the fighting spirit of @PawarSpeaks . This will inspire many generations in Maharashtra," wrote a user.
Another user wrote: "Our 79 year old stalwart delivered speech despite pouring rains at Satara ???? This picture will be etched in our memories forever ! Salute to this commitment, hard work and never say die spirit ! Thank you for inspiring us ! Hats off @PawarSpeaks saaheb"
On Monday, the Lok Sabha by-election will be held in Satara along with state elections in Maharashtra. The NCP has fielded Shrinivas Patil against Mr Bhosale. The votes will be counted on October 24.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI)