Pre-poll oppn alliance for 2019 unlikely, says Pawar

I do not see the possibility of a uniform national alliance since political situation on the ground varies from state to state. I am talking to different parties to bring them on a common platform,” NCP chief Sharad Pawar said on Tuesday during an interaction at ‘Mumbai Manthan’ conclave organised by a news channel. He said the current situation in the country was similar to the one in 2004. “There will be change in government in Delhi and Maharashtra. No single party can provide an alternative. I do not think Narendra Modi will be prime minister after the Lok Sabha polls,” he said.

Asked whether the NCP would support union minister Nitin Gadkari, who hails from Maharashtra, as prime minister if the BJP-led alliance retains power, Pawar said, “I would not support anybody from the BJP.” He also said leaders like HD Deve Gowda and Inder Kumar Gujral became prime ministers by “accident” and that he did not want to be part of “accidents”.

On former finance minister P Chidambaram’s comment that the Congress will not project Congress president Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate, Pawar said what Chidambaram said was the Congress party’s approach. “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.

To a question on attempts to project the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as a “Modi versus Gandhi contest”, Pawar said, “That is the BJP’s strategy which will not work.”

Asked whether opposition failure to have a national-level alliance was a disadvantage, the former minister said, “There won’t be much. 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,” he said. Any party getting the maximum seats can claim prime ministership if the Modi government is unseated, he added.

On demands to bring a law for construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, Pawar said, “The issue has come up since the development agenda has failed.”

Pawar also attacked the Centre over the Rafale jet contract and demanded a probe into the deal with France by a joint parliamentary committee. Asked if he felt there was corruption in the Rafale deal as alleged by Rahul Gandhi, Pawar said, “I only know the aircraft is good. Rahul Gandhi may have more information than me about corruption,” he said.

Asked about the Modi government’s performance, Pawar said people’s expectations were not fulfilled. Modi is a strong leader for the BJP, but not for the country.