Raigad (Maharashtra), April 2: NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday urged his partymen not to take Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena lightly in the ensuing parliamentary election.
Addressing a meeting of Nationalist Congress Party workers, the union agriculture minister said that based on the MNS's past performance in Lok Sabha and assembly elections, it could prove to be an important factor in the coming polls.
"Don't take it lightly. Raj Thackeray has built it up with great struggles," Pawar said.
On the other hand, Pawar took a swipe at Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, saying the party in on a continuing downslide.
"He has not been able to nurture the legacy he inherited from (the late) Bal Thackeray," Pawar said.
Pawar's comments assume significance in view of the feud that has again erupted between the Thackeray cousins as the election temperatures rise.
Earlier, addressing a rally here, Pawar targeted Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and questioned how could people trust him when he did not even meet the family of a former Congress MP who was killed in the riots.
"With Modi as chief minister, a Congress MP was burnt barely 20 km from the state capital. But this CM did not even bother to go and meet his family. How can he assure the country's well-being?" Pawar asked.
He reiterated that India has seen so many elections, but nobody has heard of a prime minister nominee declared beforehand, and it tantamouts to an insult to the constitution.
"What are the sacrifices made by their leaders for the country? We must not allow them to succeed," Pawar told the crowd, while campaigning for NCP candidate Sunil Tatkare contesting from Raigad.
On the occasion, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan expressed confidence that the Congress-NCP alliance would bag all 48 seats in the state in view of the unprecedented progress achieved by the UPA government at the centre in the past 10 years.
Chavan said Modi was bringing to the fore his "dictatorial tendencies" by sideling seniors in the BJP like L.K. Advani and now-expelled Jaswant Singh.