Pawar’s ultimatum,warns Congress of other options

Pointing out how the NDA had jointly contested elections and warning that he may be tempted to accept other offers,Nationalist Congress Party...

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Nashik | Published:March 2, 2009 11:57 pm

Pointing out how the NDA had jointly contested elections and warning that he may be tempted to accept other offers,Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Sunday gave the Congress an ultimatum to make up its mind on national-level alliances with UPA constituents.

He asked the Congress to decide on an adjustment at least a week before the date of nominations for the Lok Sabha elections and repeated the NCP’s demand for more seats outside Maharashtra. Seat-sharing has to be based on the ability of a party to win the seat,he said,and warned that non-Congress parties had made overtures to the NCP for an alliance in other states. However,he scoffed rumours that one of the names the NCP was considering was the Shiv Sena,calling it media-fuelled speculation.

Pawar was speaking to reporters during a convention of the NCP at Nashik.

While the Congress being a big party could afford to declare its candidates even on the last day of filing of nominations,he said,smaller political formations like the NCP would have a problem preparing for the polls if nominations were declared at the last minute.

Urging the Congress to reconsider its earlier announcement of not forming an alliance at the national level,Pawar warned that its allies like the NCP,RJD and Samajwadi Party would then have to contest the polls (at the national level) on their own,and make local level adjustments with even anti-Congress elements. In case they spoke out against the Congress,it would create confusion in the minds of the people,about which they were worried,he said.

Giving the example of the NDA fighting the polls under the leadership of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee,Pawar said it was necessary for the UPA too to prepare a joint manifesto and face the polls together.

Pawar said he had been approached by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh,and also in Tamil Nadu,the Northeast,Haryana and Orrisa,but wanted to avoid aligning with them. In case the alliance with the TDP materialised,he noted,there was a possibility that the speeches made by him against the Congress and reported in the media would cause problems.

According to the NCP leader,the Congress would have to cede around 50 Lok Sabha seats to its allies countrywide. For his party,he sought around 20 seats in Kerala,Tamil Nadu,Andhra Pradesh,Gujarat,Goa,Lakshadweep,Orissa,Haryana,Assam,Meghalaya and Manipur.

On questions about his partymen projecting him as the prime ministerial candidate,Pawar said he had no control over what his cadre felt. Later,Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said it was not wrong for NCP activists to “dream” of the same as around 11 crore Maharashtrians wanted a leader from the state to occupy the seat of power in New Delhi.

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