Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said that India cannot be devoid of the Congress party, reported The Indian Express. The senior leader made the remarks at the Congress Bhavan in Pune on the party’s foundation day celebrations.

“There cannot be ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’,” Pawar said. “If the country has to be taken forward then the Congress cannot be forgotten. We need to take the Congress along for the country’s progress. We cannot ignore its value. There can be differences in policies and I too have but we cannot forget its contribution for the country.”

Pawar also alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party is spreading hatred about the Congress. “I am sure we will get your [Congress] support to face and defeat the ideology which says Congress Mukt Bharat,” he added.

The ruling Bhartiya Janata Party has on several occasions talked about obliterating the Congress party from national politics. In 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had claimed in Parliament that Mahatma Gandhi wanted to dissolve the Congress and the BJP was only trying to achieve his objective.

Notably, the Nationalist Congress Party, Congress, and the Shiv Sena had come together to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government in Maharashtra in 2019. However, Shiv Sena split into two factions in June after Eknath Shinde and a group of party MLAs rebelled against the alliance.

On Wednesday, Pawar also accused the central government of misusing investigation agencies to arrest Opposition leaders, reported NDTV.

Pawar said that the arrest of Nationalist Congress Party leader Anil Deshmukh and Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) MP Sanjay Raut were the best examples of how the Enforcement Directorate can be misused.

“I will meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to prevent anyone going through a similar situation in the future,” Pawar said.