Union Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar is worried that the Congress, his ally of 15 years and the party that leads the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), is not campaigning aggressively enough to win the Lok Sabha elections.
Neither the Congress nor the BJP will get a clear majority, resulting in a government whose stability will be under threat, Pawar said.
In an exhaustive interview to The Indian Express after completing the first leg of his campaign in Maharashtra — Vidarbha votes on Thursday— Pawar, who won his first Lok Sabha election 30 years ago in 1984, said the BJP under Narendra Modi had planned its campaign well, and was using media very effectively.
“He started two months in advance and booked substantial space in various types of media. The Congress, or any other party, has never done this,” Pawar said.
The NCP is contesting only 21 of the 48 seats in Maharashtra. The Congress has fielded candidates for 26 seats, having withdrawn its nominee for Palghar at the last minute.
“I don’t see the Congress going (into battle) that aggressively. I think, even at this age, and that too in a Congress constituency, I am taking a more aggressive stance. I think the Congress worker is working effectively; he wants to fight. I don’t know about the leaders,” said Pawar, who has decided not to contest this time, and instead focus on improving the prospects of his party.
Before travelling to Amravati, where the NCP has put up Navneet Kaur Rana, the wife of realtor and independent MLA Ravi Rana, Pawar campaigned in Akola, where the Congress’s Hidayat Patel is the alliance candidate. Both Amravati and Akola go to polls on Thursday.
The 74-year-old veteran leader expressed concern over the way Modi wields absolute control over the BJP. “For any democratic country, if the projection is for one man and the overall sense, support within that party, is controlled by one man, that might create serious problems tomorrow if he succeeds,” he said.
While Pawar did not liken Modi to Hitler, which Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has done, he did say that the BJP seemed to be headed in that “direction”.
“Tomorrow, if he ultimately succeeds to control the overall country’s interests and the party is projecting him as a person, so… Hitler also got elected initially and then ultimately he established (himself) as a dictator in that particular country. I don’t say exactly like that. But direction seems to be like that, and that will create (a) serious situation for the Indian parliamentary system,” Pawar said.