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I have lost a dear friend, says Sharad Pawar

Last updated on: November 17, 2012 20:19 IST
Saying that he had loss a "dear friend" in Bal Thackeray's death, Union Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday described the Shiv Sena supremo as a "magnanimous" leader who was ready "to pay any political price" for his stand.

"Fierce pride about Maharashtra, willingness to pay any price for the interest of Marathi language, Maharashtrians, but at the same time the readiness to contribute on Maharashtra's behalf for the sake of the country, these were the hallmarks of Balasaheb," Pawar told reporters while paying his tributes to Thackery, leader of NCP's political foe Shiv Sena.

"Regarding issues of Mumbai, Marathis, we were sometimes at conflict. We were friends, but at such times he did not cut down on his trademark 'Thackeray' language while criticising us, and we too paid back," said Pawar.

"We had differences, but when there were national-level problems, he had the capability to take a generous stand. No other leader in the country had this power. He supported Emergency, saying the era of discipline was good, and did not field a single candidate in the elections that followed when (Congress leader) AR Antulay requested him."

Pawar also recalled that Thackeray had backed Pratibha Patil, a Congress candidate, for President's post, breaking ranks with the Nationalist Congress Party and this time around when he took Pranab Mukherjee to Thackeray's residence before the presidential election, the Sena supremo unequivocally said he would support Mukherjee because he was a cultured and experienced leader.

"He never bothered about others opposing this move. It was courageous," Pawar said.

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