NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of finishing off its regional allies gradually, and supported Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's decision to snap ties with the BJP.
Speaking to reporters in Baramati town of Maharashtra's Pune district, Pawar claimed the BJP was planning about how to weaken the Shiv Sena and create a division in the party.
On the two Shiv Sena factions staking claim over the party's symbol, Pawar criticised Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led rebel group, saying that the 'bow and arrow' belonged to the Sena founded by Bal Thackeray, and it was "not right to snatch" the symbol away from it.
Pawar's party was a constituent of the previous Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government, which collapsed in June this year following a revolt by Sena MLA Eknath Shinde and 39 other legislators.
Nitish Kumar had on Tuesday pulled the plug on his party JD(U)'s alliance with the BJP and resigned, and followed it up by staking claim to form a new government in Bihar with the support of the opposition Grand Alliance.
Notably, BJP national president J P Nadda recently said in the times to come only an ideology-driven party like the BJP will survive, while others ruled by families will perish.
Pawar on Wednesday claimed that "the BJP national president in his address said regional parties do not have a future and they will not exist. He said it is only their party which will exist in the country."
"From this statement, one thing is clear, which was also the complaint of Nitish Kumar, that the BJP finishes off its allies gradually," the NCP president said.
Citing an example, Pawar said a party like the Akali Dal was with them (BJP). "Its leader Prakash Singh Badal was with them, but today the party is nearly finished in Punjab," he said.
In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena and BJP were together for several years, he pointed out.
"Today, the BJP is planning how the Shiv Sena can be weakened by creating a division in the party, and (present Maharashtra CM) Eknath Shinde and others helped," he added.
In doing this, the Shiv Sena was attacked by the party which was once its ally, he said.
A similar picture was being seen in Bihar. Nitish Kumar, of the JD(U), and the BJP contested the last Assembly elections together, he said.
"One more speciality of the BJP is that it joins hands with a regional party at the time of elections, but ensures the ally wins fewer seats. It happened in Maharashtra also," Pawar claimed.
When a similar picture was being witnessed in Bihar, the CM of the state got cautious well in advance and took the decision to snap ties with the BJP, he said.
"No matter how much BJP leaders criticise Nitish Kumar, but he has taken a wise step. He took the decision anticipating the crisis the BJP was planning to bring on. I think he took a wise decision for his state and party," Pawar said.
On the two Shiv Sena factions sparring over the party symbol, Pawar said that the 'bow and arrow' is the symbol of Shiv Sena.
"It is not right to take away the symbol of a political party or create a debate over it as late Balasaheb Thackeray had adopted it (symbol) since the inception of Shiv Sena and which is something rooted in the minds of the people of Maharashtra," said Pawar.
He said that if Eknath Shinde or others want to take a different stand, they can definitely form their own party and have their own symbol.
"When I had differences with the Congress, we formed a separate party - the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) - and chose 'clock' as its symbol. We didn't ask for their symbol and didn't create any row," he said.
The former Union minister added that if someone is taking a stand to create a dispute, then people will not support it.
Asked about the economic crisis in Sri Lanka and a similar situation being witnessed in Bangladesh, he said that in Sri Lanka, power remained in the hands of one family for many years and leadership failed to respond to people's concerns. Because of this, discontent started growing in that country, he said.
"Today, the same situation is being witnessed in Bangladesh and the possibility of this happening in Pakistan, too, cannot be ruled out. There is a dire need for the rulers of our country, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi and all the constituents of the government, to take note of the situation around us," he added.
Pawar said there are doubts arising in people's minds about whether power will be centralised at the national level in India. "Although there is no such picture today, we need to be cautious and need to take care," he added.
The NCP supremo hoped that the monsoon session of Parliament would continue till 12 August.
"In the last few years, we did not feel that the central government is interested in running Parliament. Whenever they get a chance, they stop the session and closes the way for discussion," he said.