Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday wished Nationalist Congress Party chief (NCP) Sharad Pawar on his 80th birthday. 

“Best wishes to Sharad Pawar Ji on his birthday. May Almighty bless with good health and a long life,” PM Modi wrote on Twitter.

Pawar, a former Union minister and Maharashtra chief minister, is one of the foremost opposition leaders and is seen as a pivot to the anti-BJP front in the country.

Like many great leaders of the stature of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru or Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Pawar enjoys a warm personal rapport with all the top political leaders, cutting across party lines – including Prime Minister Narendra Modi who once described him as his ‘political guru’ – and many take his sagely advice on tough political issues.

The NCP has lined up several programs including a virtual rally to celebrate the former Union minister’s birthday amid the pandemic.

An online membership drive will be launched at Pawar’s hands, on Saturday, the party said. He will also launch the party’s initiative of distributing one lakh medical kits in tribal areas.

NCP has also announced a week-long donation drive beginning December 13.

The Maharashtra government will launch a digital platform named for Pawar, ‘MahaSharad’, on Saturday. It is aimed at making available assistive devices to divyangs for free.

Sharad Pawar was born on December 12, 1940, in Maharashtra’s Baramati, and has a political career spanning over 50 years. In 1967, he was elected a member of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly from Baramati constituency on a Congress ticket and has been in public service since then.

However, in 1999, he broke ties with Congress to form the Nationalist Congress Party. He had also served as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and held several key ministerial portfolios at the Centre.

At present, the NCP chief is a member of the Rajya Sabha. Pawar has also been credited for stitching the alliance between three parties — Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP after 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections to form the government in the state.

(With agency inputs)

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