The birth anniversary of a political leader is generally marked with celebrations, the receipt of bouquets, the distribution of sweets and other such activities. But Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president and former agriculture minister Sharad Pawar will be celebrating his 77th birthday — on Tuesday — by heading a rally in Nagpur. Pawar will attend the Halla Bol Aakrosh March along with senior Congress leader Ghulab Nabi Azad.
The Congress and NCP will jointly lead the rally and it will be a rare occasion that Pawar takes to an agitation against the state government. The march is aimed at cornering the BJP-Sena government in the state for its unfulfilled election promises. Senior NCP leader and MLC Hemant Takale said, "It is true that Pawar will be agitating against the state government after 32 years. It was in 1985, when Pawar had organised a cycle rally against the then state government of the Samajwadi Congress. It was organised from Jalgaon to Nagpur. While Pawar has participated in marches in Mumbai and Pune since then, from the point of view of a state-related rally, he is doing so for the first time in 32 years."
"For the first time, he will be agitating on his birthday in the interest of the people. The way this government is neglecting farmers' issues like Minimum Sales Price (MSP) for agri goods and the disbursement of loan waivers, he has decided to protest against this government and walk on the street," said the NCP supremo's nephew and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar.
Speaking with Firstpost, he said, "Generally, Pawar (Sr) used to stay at home in Pune or Mumbai and have a low-profile event. The only events organised on his birthday were health checkups and blood donation drives for those in need. But to wake up the sleeping BJP-led government, a joint Congress and NCP march will be held on Tuesday. As part of the Halla Bol agitation — 1 to 10 December, we walked 140 kilometres and noted that Nagpur and the entire Vidarbha region is in distress about this anti-farmer government."
The rally will begin at Lokmat Chowk, where Pawar Sr will address the rally. The combined march against the BJP-led government will be a show of strength with more than a dozen leaders from each party likely to take to the streets. It is believed that Pawar, a senior and respected leader from the state, heading the rally will lend the event some heft. Azad is expected to attend as well, said MP Ashok Chavan.
"It's a combined Opposition march in which the Congress, NCP, RPI, Peasants and Workers Party and Samajwadi Party will be participating. The objective is to target the government that has failed miserably on all fronts in the past three years. Right now, our priority is the combined Opposition march and ensuring its success. More than two lakh participants are set to attend the rally," said Chavan.
"The BJP-led government just makes grand promises and then fails to implement any of them. The popularity graph of the BJP has quickly dropped and the Opposition is united in exposing the weak government," added the former chief minister.
However, senior BJP leader and education minister Vinod Tawde said his party was ready for the morcha. "Whatever issues the Opposition parties have raised are issues created by them. We are with the farmers and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has everything under control. This rally is only a publicity stunt," he said.
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Updated Date: Dec 11, 2017 14:20:20 IST