Pawar meets Gadkari in Pune, sets off political speculation

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Pune: A closed door meeting between senior Bharatiya Janata party leader and Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Nationalist Congress party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Friday has set political circles abuzz.Sources said both met for half an hour at the city’s J.W. Marriott where they discussed a number of issues.Mr. Pawar’s unexpected visit to the city from Baramati to meet Mr. Gadkari has lent grist to political mills in the light of the heightened acrimony between the BJP and its ally, the Shiv Sena, following the results of the Palghar bypoll. State Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh was also present at the meeting. “No politics was discussed. A number of topics pertaining to infrastructure and engineering were taken up,” said a NCP leader, requesting anonymity.The topics discussed included Mr. Gadkari’s idea to run metro coaches on broad gauge rail lines in Nagpur, and to decongest Pune to run broad gauge metro rail in neighbouring Lonavla, Satara and Ahmednagar.The possibility of connecting the upcoming Pune airport at Purandar by rail was also mooted at the meeting, said sources.Later, Mr. Gadkari’s office officially tweeted that both leaders had met and had a detailed discussion of broad gauge metro projects.Incidentally, Mr. Pawar had met with Mr. Gadkari a week back in Pune during a meeting at the city’s council hall.Prior to the 2014 Assembly polls, backstairs 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).Immediately after the results to the 2014 Assembly election, the NCP had offered unsolicited support to the then minority BJP government after the Sena had briefly vacillated on forming a coalition with its saffron partner.The NCP, weighed down under a cloud of corruption, had eagerly offered unsolicited outside support to the then minority BJP government which had gained a majority following the Assembly poll results while its traditional saffron ally, the Sena, had dithered.

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