Union minister Ramdas Athawale has stuck to his position that if NCP chief Sharad Pawar was keen on contesting the presidential election, he should join the National Democratic Alliance. Athawale’s comments, made at Dombivili in Thane on Monday night after similar remarks last week in Nagpur, come against the backdrop of Pawar’s name being earlier discussed by the Opposition camp for the presidential post. Athawale, a veteran politician from Maharashtra, had also said that he would not be contesting the polls.
When reporters in Thane asked the Union Social Justice Minister on who should be the next president, Athawale said, “This decision lies with the NDA. If Pawar wants to become the president, he should join the NDA.” He also said that Pawar shares a good relation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“If a ‘Marathi manoos’ becomes the president, (I) will be happy,” said the chief of Republican Party of India (Athawale), an ally of BJP. To another question, the Union minister said Pawar may not become the candidate of the opposition parties.
During an interaction with reporters in Nagpur on Saturday, Athawale said, “Only the NDA candidate will win the election. Pawar shares a good relation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he should discuss with the PM and BJP president Amit Shah about his candidature. We will support him if he fights as an NDA nominated
candidate, but he should not contest as a UPA candidate.”
On the recent controversy involving Maharashtra minister Dilip Kamble over his remarks against journalists, Athawale said, “Journalists are our friends. They have a right to ask questions.” At an event in Hingoli last week, Kamble, the state social justice minister had said, “Journalists write anything for money and they should be thrashed with shoes.”