While Opposition parties aiming to take on the BJP unitedly in 2019 have maintained a conspicuous silence on their prime ministerial candidate, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar has come out with a formula to settle the issue. At a party meeting on Monday, Pawar said the Opposition party bagging the maximum number of seats after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls could claim the top post.
“Let elections take place, remove these people (BJP) from power. We will sit together. Whichever party has got more seats can claim the prime minister’s post,” Pawar said. The 78-year-old also expressed happiness over Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s recent remarks that he was not driven by prime ministerial ambitions.
“I am happy that the Congress leader (Rahul Gandhi) has also said he is not in the race for the prime minister’s post,” Pawar said. While addressing the Indian Journalists’ Association in London on Saturday, Gandhi said he was not driven by an ambition to become prime minister, contravening his own remarks earlier this year.
“I don’t have these visions. I view myself as fighting an ideological battle and this change has come in me after 2014. I realised that there’s a risk to Indian state, to the Indian way of doing things and I’m defending that,” Gandhi had said.
Earlier too, Opposition parties like RJD, SP and BSP have hinted that they were uncomfortable with Gandhi being projected as the PM face. RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said has that a lot of people were capable of becoming PM, while Akhilesh Yadav has claimed the country would see a new prime minister after 2019 elections. The BSP has hinted that Mayawati could be the united Opposition PM nominee, while TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, who has met several opposition leaders in the past few months, has sent the vibes that she was also a strong contender.
After two round of meetings, the Maharashtra Congress-NCP state leadership has reportedly agreed to forge an electoral alliance for 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Pawar vouched for forging alliances of anti-BJP parties at a state level and said the prime ministerial candidate could be decided after the election results, as happened after the 1977 and 2004 general polls.
In 1977, Congress tasted defeat and non-Congress parties had come together to form the government led by Moraraji Desai. The Congress-led UPA was formed in 2004 after the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA failed to get people’s mandate. “In 2004, no (non-BJP) party had a majority. No leader or party was projected (as prime ministerial face). The BJP had then launched a massive India Shining campaign but was defeated,” Pawar said.
Raising concerns over the alleged instances of EVM tampering, Pawar asked the Election Commission to revert to using ballot papers during polling. The NCP leader said despite Modi being a strong competitor, the people of the country would teach him a lesson in the upcoming elections. “Narendra Modi is a strong competitor (now). But don’t worry, the common man of this country is more aware and smarter than us,” Pawar said.
The Maratha strongman said he would “try to go to each state and make regional parties which are not with the BJP to join us (the opposition alliance)”. He noted that Congress was strong in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan while in Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati-led BSP and Samajwadi Party are the heavyweights.
“Situation is different in each state. Hence, we will have to get along with parties which are strong in each state,” the former union minister said. When asked if the Raj Thackeray-led MNS would be part of the anti-BJP alliance, Pawar said this issue hadn’t been discussed.