NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday blamed “past mistakes” of the Congress for the deadlock over the Leader of Opposition post in the Lok Sabha.
“For the post of LoP, there is no such provision in the law which states of having specific numbers in the Lok Sabha. In the past, Congress has committed the mistake twice. But the LoP is an institution which represents another side to any issue in Parliament. I feel that the issue will be sorted out,” he told reporters.
But backing Congress’s claim over the post, he said there should be no objection in appointing LoP if a group of parties submits a memorandum, recommending a leader for the post. He was referring to the memorandum submitted by the Congress containing the signatures of 60 members of the UPA, which included NCP members.
The NCP chief also played down the row over income tax notice sent to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the National Herald case. Pawar also supported the NDA government’s move to raise the FDI cap to 49 per cent in insurance, infrastructure and defence with the rider that “caution must be observed while opening up certain sensitive sectors or restricted areas like the Defence Research and Development Organisation, where one has to take care while allowing FDI.”
With regards to FDI in defence, Pawar also said, “One has to see who is coming forward to invest”.
He, however, fired a salvo at the Modi government over the issue of price rise. “The trend on policies and action of the Modi government since coming to power indicate that they are not working in the direction of fulfilling promises and assurances made by them during the Lok Sabha election campaign,” he said.
About the upcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra in October, Pawar said a decision on the number of seats to be contested by Congress and NCP would be taken at the national level.
Asked if NCP contesting 50 per cent (144 of state’s 288) seats would be a precondition when leaders of the two parties sit to discuss seat-sharing, Pawar said, “It can be more than 144 or less than 144. Winnability will be a factor in the talks.”
When pointed out that senior NCP leaders like his nephew and deputy CM Ajit Pawar and state party president Sunil Tatkare have insisted on NCP contesting at least 144 seats given the party’s better performance in the LS elections than Congress, Pawar retorted, “Please remember that I am the party president.”
Asked if NCP will project any leader as a CM candidate ahead of polls, Pawar said, “We will first see what the picture is from the other side. Then we will decide.”
When his attention was drawn to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan pleading ignorance about the reported offer from Congress leadership that Pawar lead the joint poll campaign in the state, the NCP chief said, “Chavan was not present at the meeting when the proposal was made.”