Mumbai, Oct 09: In a fresh salvo at the Narendra Modi government, veteran politician and NCP president Sharad Pawar has asked why the BJP government conferred the Padma Vibhushan — India’s second-highest civilian award — on him if it thought he was pro-Pakistan.
Recently, during his visit to Maharashtra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had targeted Pawar, asking him why he liked the hospitality of Pakistan so much.
Responding to the charges in an exclusive interview with CNN-News18, the NCP chief refuted the statement allegedly attributed by the Prime Minister to him.
He also slammed PM Modi for failing to maintain the dignity of the office of the Prime Minister. “I don’t understand one thing. The Prime Minister is an institution. That institution has many sources to get correct information. I would have liked it if he would have made a statement after taking correct information about what I had said. But what do I say when the Prime Minister makes a statement without even checking if his information is wrong? If he meant to suggest that my interests lie so much in Pakistan that I am against the interest of my own country, then why did his government give me Padma Vibhushan?” he said.
Pawar added, “The Padma Vibhushan is second only to the Bharat Ratna. If this BJP government conferred it on me, then it means it thought that I had done some national service which was worthy of it. Why such contradiction then? On one hand, you give me Padma Vibhushan, on the other hand, you say I have interest in Pakistan. Such contradiction by a person who is occupying the highest chair in the country doesn’t look good.”
When asked about his statement, the NCP chief said he was talking at an internal party event behind closed doors and did not say anything pro-Pakistan or anti-India. “I had said, the Pakistan government and Army takes an anti-India stand for their benefit. Because it is in their interest to say such things. But when I met the common people there, many of them had relatives in Lucknow or Hyderabad, and wondered how they could invite them or meet them. So the leaders’ issues are different from the people’s issues. The leaders create anti-India environment was my statement. What is pro-Pakistan line in this?” he asked.