Raj Thackeray to 'interview' Sharad Pawar in Pune today: Will two vocal critics of Devendra Fadnavis govt join forces?

A public interview session between MNS chief Raj Thackeray and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, which was originally scheduled to take place on 3 January, will now be held on Wednesday in Pune

FP Politics February 21, 2018 18:06:10 IST
Raj Thackeray to 'interview' Sharad Pawar in Pune today: Will two vocal critics of Devendra Fadnavis govt join forces?

A public interview session between Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar, which was originally scheduled to take place on 3 January, will now be held on Wednesday in Pune.

Nitin Jalukar from the Jagtik Marathi Academy, which is organising the event, was quoted by The Print as saying the event will be a crowd-puller, drawing in people by the thousands. "We are expecting a crowd of 25,000-30,000 people and have made the necessary arrangements. We have appealed to everyone to not carry party flags or raise campaign slogans," Jalukar said.

Raj Thackeray to interview Sharad Pawar in Pune today Will two vocal critics of Devendra Fadnavis govt join forces

Sharad Pawar and Raj Thackeray

The original event was scheduled to mark Pawar's 50 years in active politics, but it was postponed following the Bhima-Koregaon violence that disrupted large parts of Maharashtra, brought two cities to a standstill and killed one person.

As reported by Firstpost earlier, Thackeray will be "interviewing" Pawar in Pune, and the duo is expected to talk about the politics of the state, caste-based issues, farmer suicides, etc. Given that both Pawar and Thackeray have been critical of the BJP-led state government, they are also expected to launch an offensive against Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' administration.

The getting together of Pawar and Thackeray would worry Fadnavis, especially since his ally Shiv Sena is also threatening to walk out of the alliance. The BJP weakened in the Legislative Assembly without the support of Sena, isn't likely to appreciate any possible mutual admiration between NCP and MNS.

"It is likely that Raj saheb will discuss the political experiments of Sharad Pawar over the years," Sandeep Deshpande, an MNS leader, told The Print. "There could be some sharp questions on the current political situation in Maharashtra, on the BJP-led government, the perception about PM Narendra Modi among others."

According to Deshpande, the discussion may also touch upon the possibility of an alternative political front in Maharashtra.

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