PUNE: In a veiled attack on the BJP, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday alleged that attempts were being made to spread bitterness in the society, and therefore taking the country forward and maintaining harmony has become a challenge.
Politics used to connect people in the past, but now efforts were being made in the country to divide them on the basis of religion, he said, adding that the the country's leadership was trying to defame national icons like Mahatma Gandhi.
Pawar was addressing a gathering at Sangli, around 230 kms from here, where he welcomed local leader Shivajirao Naik back into the NCP fold, after the latter quit the BJP.
"Shivajirao was successful as the Zilla Parishad president...I welcome him back to NCP. Let's work together to use his expertise for the betterment of Maharashtra," he said.
"Satara, or for that matter, Maharashtra had leadership who worked for the development or to bring people together. But today, efforts are being made in the country to divide people on basis of religion," Pawar said.
Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad fought for the country's freedom and worked to build it.
But presently, the country's leadership is trying to defame these people, the former Union minister alleged.
The country is currently being led by a party, which has a different thought process.
Politics previously connected people, but now attempts are being made at the country to divide people on religious lines, he said.
"Recently, in BJP-ruled Karnataka, a 'fatwa' was issued by some organisations, where people were asked not to buy anything from the shops run by members from a minority community. This type of bitterness is being spread by those elements who are in power in states. How will this country go ahead and how will we maintain harmony is a question," Pawar said.
"Today, we want to fight against this bigotry. We have to do politics of development, of better future for workers and farmers. I am confident that (Maharashtra Chief Minister) Uddhav Thackeray, (Deputy CM) Ajit Pawar, (NCP minister) Jayant Patil and others will change this picture together," he said.
Meanwhile, he also said that along with the production of sugar, people should focus on producing ethanol.
"We cannot just go for sugar production. We should opt for ethanol production. It is a good decision to have a distillery in some sugar factories...Production of ethanol will help us to save money and farmers and distillers will be able to earn through it. PM also announce the incentive policies to support ethanol production."