In an interview to Hindustan Times, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has suggested that Sonia Gandhi, HD Deve Gowda and he should come together to unite the Opposition ahead of Lok Sabha 2019 polls.
He said since the UPA chairperson, the former Prime Minister and him are senior leaders “with no ambition to become PM”, they should travel around the country as a trust-building exercise so as to provide a counter-narrative to the BJP ahead of the 2019 general elections.
In a first, Pawar also invited Mayawati’s BSP to join the NCP-Congress alliance in Maharashtra, even though the strategy has not been discussed officially.
Pawar recommended that the Opposition focus on state-wide alliances and not national alliances. Adding that his conversations with Congress President Rahul Gandhi have “substantially improved”, he said the question of leadership should be left for after elections.
Likening the current political scenario in India to that during the Emergency (1975-77), Pawar said akin to Indira Gandhi, Modi too had “control over the media, government and government situations”. He said at that time, the driving force of Jayaprakash Narayan provided a viable alternative, and that the same onus lies on the aforementioned senior leaders, since “there is no JP today”.
The BJP did not comment on Pawar’s remarks.
Pawar also emphasized on the significance of regional parties in their respective states, saying the Congress should clutch on to these parties in areas where it is not dominant. In this regard, Pawar spoke with the Left, Trinamool Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party.
Praising Rahul Gandhi’s approach of not naming a leader before elections, Pawar told the paper, “He (Rahul) said there are some states where it is difficult for my colleagues to accept or digest this situation, particularly Kerala and West Bengal. In Kerala, they feel our fight with the Left is equal. In West Bengal, the position is not like Kerala, but the overall thinking of the leadership of the Congress party about Mamata is such that it is difficult for them to accept her. He told me that it is difficult in these two-three states. I told him you are the leader, and it is your job to convince.”
On his recent meeting with BSP supremo Mayawati, Pawar said she has consolidated the position in Uttar Pradesh with Samajwadi Party and others. Commenting on his invitation for the BSP to join the NCP-Congress alliance in Maharashtra, Pawar said, “Her association will pay dividends in Vidarbha region."
When asked why he is not in line to be Prime Minister, the octogenarian told the paper, “Irrational thinking has no meaning in politics. There has to be rational thinking. My party will ultimately contest 30-35 seats throughout India. I may get 50 percent maximum. With that number, if anyone dreams of becoming PM of this country, he is quite away from reality.”Experts have suggested that localizing these elections—making them 543 unique elections—is the best bet for the Opposition to avoid “tricky pan-Indian questions that they are in no place to answer right now”.