Sharad Pawar’s Baramati an ‘exemplar of rural development’, says Venkaiah Naidu

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PUNE, JUNE 22,
Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday praised Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Chief Sharad Pawar for his work on rural development by calling Baramati “an exemplar of rural development”.
“Anyone who wants to understand rural development must visit Baramati. I urge all MPs to do so,” said Mr. Naidu, during a half-day visit at Mr. Pawar’s bastion.
“Even if our political ideologies differ, his [Sharad Pawar’s] passion for agricultural issues and his sage and practical outlook have led to an enduring friendship between us,” said Mr. Naidu, adding that being in different parties had never come in his way of forming a strong personal bond with Mr. Pawar.
The Vice-President further lauded Mr. Pawar’s vision in transforming Baramati under his leadership over a span of four decades.
Following his arrival at the Baramati airport, Mr. Naidu, who was received by MP Supriya Sule and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar, was taken on an extensive tour of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra.
The Vice-President, with the NCP supremo by his side, visited the farmers training centre at the Kendra and interacted with members of the centre’s Agriculture Development Trust.
“The transformation wrought by the Vidya Pratishthan and the Krishi Vigyan Kendra in the lives of ordinary people is truly impressive,” he said.
NCP leaders boycotted Pune function
Incidentally, Ajit Pawar and local NCP leaders had boycotted Mr. Naidu’s event in Pune on Thursday when the Vice-President inaugurated the new administration building of the Pune civic body.
The NCP had abstained from the function after accusing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of trying to “stifle the voice of the opposition”.
‘Non-political’ visits
Following the BJP’s political ascendancy in the State and at the Centre after the 2014 Parliamentary and Assembly elections, seemingly innocuous “non-political” visits to Mr. Pawar’s Baramati by top BJP brass has been read as a stratagem to keep the ruling party’s restive saffron partner, the Shiv Sena, in check.
In February 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Mr. Pawar, heaping praise on the ‘Baramati model of development’.
That same year – in October and November – Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis followed suit with their respective visits to Baramati, paying fulsome tributes to Mr. Pawar’s “commitment to development”.
On each occasion, the visits, ostensibly to discuss agriculture-related issues, were timed when relations between the BJP and the Sena had hit a new low.
While both NCP and BJP leaders have downplayed the significance of these “non-political” visits, analysts have read a veiled message for the Sena on such occasions.
After October 2014 Assembly election, the NCP, weighed down under a cloud of corruption, had eagerly offered unsolicited outside support to the then minority BJP government while its traditional ally, the Sena had vacillated.
Prior to the State election, intrigue between the BJP and the NCP had resulted in the crumbling of the hitherto unbroken polar alliances in Maharashtra, the Sena-BJP (since 1989) and the Congress-NCP (since 1999).

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