The ruling MVA constituents are working together in the battle against COVID-19 in Maharashtra and the INC and NCP are fully supportive of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s leadership, NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar has said.
In an interview, Pawar said that the government formed by the Shiv Sena, NCP and INC – in November last year – will absolutely complete its five-year run. He exuded confidence that a similar political situation will prevail in the state if the three parties contest the next Assembly election together.
The veteran leader rejected suggestions that he is remote-controlling the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, in which his party is the second largest constituent.
The NCP chief said the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress are working together against corona and there is not an iota of difference. “All three parties are working under the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray. INC and NCP fully support his leadership and action,” Sharad Pawar said.
Sharad Pawar added that he had suggested that areas outside Pune, Mumbai and Thane should be reopened, which he said was backed by Uddhav Thackeray since he adopted a similar strategy.
On allegations of virtually running the Maharashtra government, Sharad Pwar said, “I am not remote controlling the government. It is fully controlled by Thackeray. I am not in the decision making process, but I contribute in other areas like the cyclone relief recently.”
The INC and NCP are fully supporting Uddhav Thackerays leadership and whatever the actions he has taken, there is a perfect understanding, he added.
Dismissing claims that he is remote-controlling the MVA regime, Pawar said it is fully controlled by Thackeray and the latter’s team. The NCP chief said the three parties are working together as one unit and added he was not part of the decision-making process. “But I do handle other activities, when suppose there is a crisis, there is a cyclone. I like to visit and give confidence to the people”, he added.
Pawar dismissed the opposition BJPs claims that the MVA government will not complete its five-year run. Absolutely this government will last for five years. If the three parties contest the next Assembly election jointly, a similar situation will prevail after five years too, he added.
On the COVID-19 situation in the state, Pawar said the situation is definitely improving day by day. He said the situation was difficult in some parts of Mumbai like Dharavi and other slums earlier, but things have improved substantially in the financial capital, too. “(In) all these slums, where we have reduced the number of patients, I think the picture has definitely changed. It has improved in Mumbai…day by day, the situation in the entire state is definitely improving”, he added.
Asked whether there were any differences of opinion between him and Thackeray on easing lockdown with him wanting the unlocking to happen faster, while the chief minister was being more cautious, Pawar said, “Yeah, it is partly true, but not fully correct. I was also not supporting the idea to open up the entire Mumbai, Pune and Thane belt immediately. But I was definitely suggesting to reopen slowly the rest of the state and chief minister Thackeray and his team have taken a similar road”, the veteran politician added.
Thackeray writes to Modi over cancellation of exams
Thackeray has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to instruct relevant apex bodies to cancel final year/semester examinations of professional courses in view of the outbreak of the coronavirus.
In a letter to Modi dated 25 June, Thackeray said considering the current COVID-19 situation, the state Disaster Management Authority, in a meeting on 18 June, decided not to conduct final year/semester examinations of non-professional as well as professional courses and award degrees to students based on a formula to be decided by universities.
Further, an option would be given to students who want to take examinations whenever they are held, he said.
At the meeting, it was also decided to get the decision in respect of professional courses endorsed by the respective apex authorities since they regulate these courses, the chief minister said.
These apex bodies include the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Council for Architecture (COA), Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), Bar Council of India (BCI), National Council For Teachers Education (NCTE) and National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology (NCHMCT).
“I request you to instruct the national-level apex authorities to endorse the decision of the state government regarding cancellation of final year/final semester examinations of professional courses and to issue necessary guidelines to universities in this regard,” Thackeray said in the letter.
Thackeray said students and parents are concerned about the final year/semester examinations of the academic year 2019-20 and commencement of the next academic year in view of the prevailing coronavirus crisis.
The present atmosphere caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is not conducive to conduct examinations or classes in educational institutes, the chief minister said.
The need of the hour was to have uniform guidelines in respect of cancellation of examinations, Thackeray said, adding the pandemic has created many challenges for students pursuing higher education.