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Modi silent on Sena, takes on Pawar in NCP stronghold

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Tasgaon/Kolhapur (Mah) (Oct 5, 2014): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched a sharp attack on NCP chief Sharad Pawar but remained silent on Shiv Sena as a "tribute" to its late supremo Bal Thackeray in an apparent indication of a possible post-poll truck with BJP's erstwhile ally.

Addressing three rallies on the second day of his campaigning in poll-bound Maharashtra, Modi also asked voters to banish forever the "corrupt" NCP and Congress from the state politics, accusing the ruling alliance partners of misrule for 15 years and looting the people of the state.

Notwithstanding the bitter parting just before the elections, Modi said he would "not utter a single word" against Shiv Sena out of respect for late Bal Thackeray.

"Political pundits are saying why is Modi not criticising Shiv Sena in his speeches (during poll campaign). This is the first election in absence of late Bal Thackeray, for whom I have great respect. I have decided not to utter a single word against Shiv Sena. This is my tribute to Balasaheb Thackeray," he said.

"There are some things which are above politics.... There are feelings. Not everything should be linked to politics," Modi told a poll rally at Tasgaon in Sangli district of western Maharashtra.

His remarks came hours after Shiv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray attacked BJP, accusing it of "backstabbing" Bal Thackeray by snapping ties with his party over seat sharing.

In his attack on Pawar at the rallies in Tasgaon, Kolhapur and Gondia in Vidarbha region, Modi said the NCP leader cannot imbibe any of the qualities of Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji. Tasgaon and Kolhapur are considered NCP strongholds.

"I am amazed. Pawar was the Union Agriculture Minister. But in his Maharashtra, around 3,700 farmers commit suicide every year," he said.

"There is no chance of you (Pawar) getting Shivaji's qualities in your character," Modi said, as he invoked Chhatrapati Shivaji, Shiv Sena's biggest icon for the Maratha pride plank.

"But as agriculture minister at the Centre, had you implemented Shivaji's water management techniques, farmers of Maharashtra would not have committed suicide," the Prime Minister said at Tasgaon from where former state Home Minister R R Patil is NCP nominee.

Modi hit back at Pawar who had attacked the BJP saying that the people who had termed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj a 'looter' were invoking the warrior king to seek votes.

"Stop challenging our 'Shiv bhakti'," Modi said.

"I want to ask Sharad Rao Pawar. You speak of Shivaji. It was the Vajpayee government which named Mumbai airport after Shivaji. You were Chief Minister but did not think of it. Even Victoria Terminus was named Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus by Vajpayee government," Modi said.

At a recent rally, Pawar had said, "They never even celebrated Shiv Jayanti and suddenly they have realised the importance of Shivaji Maharaj. All this is for votes only.