Veteran politician and Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar, who hit the streets on his 77th birthday on Tuesday to lead a rally, said the ruling "BJP should feel ashamed of itself" for hurling allegations of Pakistani links against former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Addressing a massive rally on after leading a massive 'Jan Aakrosh Halla Bol' procession, jointly with Congress and other parties against the BJP-Shiv Sena government, he said: "Manmohan Singh's credential are impeccable and it was very wrong to accuse him of seeking Pakistan's help to win the ongoing assembly elections in Gujarat."
"Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government has taken power, it has destroyed the country, it is indulging in extremely dirty politics and it has invoked Pakistan merely to cling to power. It is a very sad development," Pawar said.
The Modi government has completed more than three years in power, but the farmers issues remained unresolved and their problems are being ignored, compelling them to commit suicide, he added.
Pawar - who led a political procession after 37 years, said when Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was informed of Tuesday's procession, he responded that he "would show them their place when they came to him".
"The CM has threatened us. He has complete authority to govern the state, but if he threatens to throw us in jail, the farmers of the state are powerful enough to uproot you from power," Pawar warned.
He pointed out that the agitation was intended to "awaken the sleeping government to the misery of the farmers" who have been denied justice on various counts, including the Minimum Support Price for farm produce, implementation of the farm loans waiver scheme announced in June and other related issues.
Meanwile, the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government hit back at the opposition with the Anti-Corruption Bureau lodging FIRs in four different cases pertaining to the alleged scams worth Rs 72,000 crore in the state irrigation department, which could implicate several senior NCP leaders, including former Deputy CM Ajit Pawar and ex-minister Sunil Tatkare.
The procession, signaling a realignment of the political opposion, was led by an ailing Pawar - who recently underwent a toe surgery, but he appeared fit, cheerful and in full form.
Joined by an estimated 200,000 farmers and party activists from entire Vidarbha region of eastern Maharasthra, the procession started from Dhanwate National College grounds and slowly wended its way to the Maharashtra Legislature which has currently assembled here for the Winter Session in the state's second capital.
It culminated there into a rally which was addressed by Pawar, several senior NCP leaders Praful Patel, Tatkare, Leader of Opposition in Council Dhanjay Munde, Congress's former Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, state Congress President Ashok Chavan, Leader of Opposition in Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and others from both parties.
"In 1980, Pawar had led a similar procession on bicycle from Jalgaon to Nagpur to fight for farmers issues. This time, it's a commemoration of that procession for the cause of farmers who are being denied justice under the present Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena at the centre and in Maharashtra," state NCP spokesperson Nawabl Malik told IANS.
Tuesday's procession-cum-rally was part of the ongoing agitation launched by the NCP on December 1, in different parts of the state intended to "condemn and awaken the sleeping state government on its various unfulfilled promises" for the people of Maharashtra.
Besides the national parties, the procession saw participation of activists and leaders of other smaller and regional parties like Samajwadi Party, Peasants & Workers Party, Republican Party of India-G and RPI-K, farmers groups, etc.