Mumbai/Pune: Amid the controversy over an alleged conspiracy to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said that the BJP is trying to generate “sympathy” by playing a “threat letter card”.
Speaking at a function marking the 19th anniversary of the NCP as well as the culmination of the party's "hallabol" campaign, Pawar said the people would not fall prey to the BJP's attempts to generate sympathy.
On June 8, the Pune Police claimed to have intercepted internal communication of Maoists planning a 'Rajiv Gandhi type' assassination of Prime Minister Modi by "targeting his roadshows".
The letter was recovered from the house of Rona Wilson who was among five people arrested arrested from Mumbai, Nagpur and Delhi in connection with 'Elgar Parishad' held in Pune in December and the subsequent Bhima-Koregaon violence in the district.
Pawar alleged the government was branding some "progressive" people as "naxalites" for organising the event.
"Some progressive people in Pune came together and organised the Elgar Parishad. Now, the government is arresting some of them and branding them naxalites. "Everyone knows who were behind the Bhima Koregaon (violence) but instead of arresting them, those who have no connection, have been arrested and this is called the misuse of power," the former union minister said.
"The BJP has realised that they are losing the popular support. In order to gain sympathy, the BJP is now playing the threat letter card. However, I am sure that the people will not fall prey to such tactics," Pawar added.
The veteran politician, who is trying to project himself as the pivot to unite opposition parties to take on the BJP in 2019 polls, has intensified his attack on the BJP in last few weeks.
Pawar also raised doubts about the veracity of the threat letter. "I have spoken to a senior retired police officer who told me that when such letters come they do not go to media but to the security agencies which make sure that adequate security measures are taken," the former chief minister said.
His comments garnered sharp reaction with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis saying he did not expect Pawar to "stoop down to this level".
"It is very unfortunate that Sharad Pawar ji is raising doubts about the communication ceased by the police which reveals the plot to assassin Hon PM @narendramodi ji," Fadnavis tweeted.
“Hon PM @narendramodi ji is the leader of our nation and not just of a political party. @PawarSpeaks is not expected to stoop down to this level. Police has all the evidences and truth will prevail,” he added.
In a tweet in Marathi, Fadnavis said that "Pawar ji should play politics of the nation and not politics of hatred."
A string of rallies and protests were held under the NCP's 'Hallabol' campaign against the BJP-led Maharashtra government which was launched in Yeotmal in east Maharashtra in December 2017.
NCP stalwart Chhagan Bhujbal, who was released on bail last month in a money laundering case, also attended the event.