Bhandara (Maharashtra), April 5: After a gap of nearly 15 years, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar Saturday shared the dais as they jointly campaigned for the UPA candidates here.
The uncertainties of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections apparently brought Pawar – who had broken away from the Congress in 1998 protesting Gandhi’s Italian origins – closer to her.
A year later, Pawar had floated the NCP in 1999 which however later became part of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance at the centre and even in Maharashtra where the alliance is in power since 14 years.
Gandhi’s first rally in Maharashtra for the 2014 election saw Pawar joining her to jointly campaign for the NCP candidate and union minister Praful Patel in the region which is affected by Maoist insurgency.
Speaking at the huge rally comprising mostly farmers and tribals, Gandhi listed the achievements of the Congress-led UPA government ruling the centre for the past ten years.
“The Congress has always supported the farming community and has always behind them in all times. We have extended help to the farmers hit by the recent natural disasters,” she said.
Referring to the Maoists, she said that efforts are underway to end the rebels’ violence through implementing various developmental schemes for them.
“We brought the food security bill… this is unique anywhere in the world. Now we plan to introduce a similar health security bill for the people of this country. However, the opposition does not see the development which we have achieved,” she said.
In his address, Pawar targeted Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and called him a man in great hurry to occupy the top post.
“He is in great hurry to become the bridegroom,” he quipped, saying that only the Congress-NCP can ensure development of the country and sought the people’s support for them
The two leaders are scheduled to address another joint rally in Nagpur later.