The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pep talk for ‘Sharadbabu’

Mumbai, Nov. 18: Bal Thackeray and Sharad Pawar may be political rivals, but that has not kept the Shiv Sena chief from wishing the agriculture minister speedy recovery after his angioplasty.

In a letter to his one-time friend, whom he has addressed as “Sharadbabu”, Thackeray wrote: “In the Sonia-led dispensation, you are food and agriculture minister. Under the current situation, you hold crucial portfolios. That’s why it is not just Maharashtra, but the entire country needs you.”

“Let me repeat myself. Maharashtra, indeed, needs you. But in the difficult times that we are passing through, the country needs you badly. Hence, if not for your own sake, you have to live for Maharashtra and the country,” the letter said.

It was published in the Sena mouthpiece Saamna and a copy was handed to Pawar at his residence by Sanjay Raut, the paper’s executive editor, yesterday.

“It was nice to hear that you are better now. But as a fatherly figure, I have to advise you to cut down your work. Please work only as much as is necessary,” the letter said.

Thackeray then goes on to advise him to cut down on travel within the country and abroad. “Your party’s election symbol may be the clock and its hands may have already struck a time, but you should not forget that your life’s clock is ticking away and its hands do not get stuck.”

This is not the first time that the Sena chief has openly demonstrated his warm personal relations with Pawar, though publicly he criticises the policies of the state government in which Pawar’s party is a partner.

The letter comes at an interesting juncture in state politics. His critics say this is Thackeray’s way of warming up to Pawar ahead of the crucial Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation polls early next year.

Although the Sena rules the cash-rich corporation, it faces a big challenge from a breakaway group and the Congress.

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