Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said a national Opposition alliance for the 2019 General Elections was unlikely but said he was trying to bring parties opposed to the Bharatiya Janata Party together on a common platform. Pawar made the remarks at conclave organised by the Aaj Tak news channel.
“I do not see the possibility of a uniform national alliance since political situation on the ground varies from state to state,” he said. “We should accept the dominance of Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh, Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal... After polls, the picture of who will lead the alliance will be clear from those who get maximum seats.”
The veteran political leader said the current situation in the country was similar to the one in 2004. “There will be change in governments in Delhi and Maharashtra,” Pawar claimed. “No single party can provide an alternative. I do not think Narendra Modi will be prime minister after the Lok Sabha polls.”
He said former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led a stable government for 10 years even though no one thought he would be able to. “Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s stature in the BJP and the country was much bigger than Modi,” he said, referring to the former prime minister, who died in August. “Still there was a change. There is never a vacuum in politics. There will be an alternative even now.”
Asked about former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s comment that Congress President Rahul Gandhi would not be projected as the party’s prime ministerial candidate before the elections, Pawar said: “During all my interactions with Rahul Gandhi so far, I realised there was no insistence on being the PM candidate face, but only change of the present government.” He said the BJP’s strategy to project the Lok Sabha elections as a “Modi versus Gandhi contest” would not work.
The NCP chief said his party would not support Union minister Nitin Gadkari, who hails from Maharashtra, as prime minister if the BJP-led alliance retains power. “I would not support anybody from the BJP,” he added.
Responding to a question on the Narendra Modi government’s performance, Pawar said it had failed to fulfil people’s expectations. “What was promised in 2014 is not seen on the ground after four years,” he added. “If the present government was effective, there would not have been bribery charges at the highest level in the CBI....He [Modi] should act.”