Pune: In the wake of recovery of an alleged Maoist letter suggesting to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said the BJP was 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.
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 last December.
According to police probing the January 1 Bhima-Koregaon caste violence, a letter found in the house of a person arrested for alleged Maoist "links" talks about the ultras' mulling "Rajiv Gandhi-type incident" and suggesting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be targeted during his "road shows".
The letter was recovered from the house of Rona Wilson who was among five people 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.
NCP stalwart Chhagan Bhujbal, who was released on bail last month in a money laundering case, also attended the event.
"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 said.
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.
He said the BJP's graph is going down across the country.
Appreciating Bhujbal's work as former PWD minister, Pawar said the Maharashtra Sadan building in Delhi is the "fine example" of a modern structure as even the PM holds a meeting there.
Maharashtra Sadan was at the centre of a money laundering case against Bhujbal who is accused of having received kickbacks from a developer in lieu of awarding the contract for constructing the building.
"It is unfortunate that the person who did an excellent job by constructing such structure was put behind bars," Pawar said referring to Bhujbal's incarceration of two years before getting bail.
Similarly, veteran Congress leader P Chidambaram who had done an outstanding job as a former finance minister is being "falsely implicated," he alleged.
Referring to the glitches in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during the Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha bypoll held last month, Pawar claimed the election commission, on a complaint of the NCP, gave in writing that 64 EVms were not working.
"They (BJP) are trying to manipulate EVMs to win the elections, as they have understood that they would not be able to win the elections in a democratic manner," he alleged.
Pawar said he was appealing to "all the like-minded parties barring the BJP" to approach Chief Election Commissioner for discarding EVMs and bringing back the old system (of paper ballot).
Speaking about building a common platform against the BJP before 2019 polls, the NCP chief said, "All like-minded parties should come together. The NCP has already taken a lead to reach out to such parties," he said.
On the occasion, Pawar offered a 'Phule Pagadi' - a traditional turban named after the 19th century social reformer Jyotiba Phule--to Bhujbal, a prominent OBC leader.
He directed the NCP workers to use the 'Phule Pagdi' for felicitation in future public functions instead of traditional 'Puneri Pagadi', a turban which is considered as a symbol of pride and honour in Pune.