Detractors gang up against Pawar
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sharad Pawar's detractors are out to exploit the Speaker's election debacle.
Accusing the Maratha of failing in his first major assignment -- ensuring the election of party candidate Purno A Sangma as Lok Sabha Speaker -- Pawar's critics are trying to 'poison' party chief Sonia Gandhi's mind.
Pawar, who became the Congress Parliamentary Party's floor coordinator in the Lower House amidst much heart-burning in the party, faced considerable flak yesterday, when Sonia visited the All India Congress Committee headquarters.
Senior Congress leaders reportedly said that he should have smelled the Bharatiya Janata Party's clandestine deal with the Telugu Desam Party on the Speaker's election, leading to Ganti Mohana Chandra Balayogi's victory.
The leaders also tried to nail Pawar on the Maharashtra Chief Minister Manohar Joshi issue -- the latter was criticised by Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray for his 'friendship' with the Maratha strongman. Pawar also maintains good relations with several other Shiv Sainiks, the Congress leaders seem to have alleged.
The Congressmen told Sonia that these links should be monitored closely.
Sonia's reaction to the litany of complaints against Pawar is not known.
Meanwhile, addressing the media, Congress spokesman V N Gadgil criticised the BJP for making former Union communications minister Sukh Ram the Himachal Pradesh deputy chief minister. The BJP had stalled parliamentary proceedings over Sukh Ram's alleged involvement in the telephone scam, he said.
''The ruling combine's national agenda had given up Ram,'' he said. ''The only Ram they now believe in is Sukh Ram.''
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