Is NCP’s Sharad Pawar eyeing a bigger role at the Centre?

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on April 30, 2019

File Photo of NCP leader Sharad Pawar.   -  PTI

After backing Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu and Mayawati as top contenders for the prime ministerial post in case any single party or an alliance fails to secure majority, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said he is not in the race for the top post but at the same time has made it clear he will play a vital role in bringing all leaders together.

As the fourth and last phase of polling ended in the State on Monday, Pawar told media that even if his party wins all 22 seats it contested in Maharashtra, it was unrealistic for him to join the race for the top post. However, he said he was going to ensure that non-BJP leaders come together to stop the BJP regaining power.

NCP insiders said Pawar was in constant discussions with various non-BJP and non-Congress leaders, including Mamata Banerjee and Chandrababu Naidu. Despite Pawar refusing his contest for PM’s post, many NCP candidates have appealed voters that NCP should win maximum seats to facilitate Pawar’s claim on the post.

A history with BJP

Even as the NCP and the Congress have fought Lok Sabha elections together in Maharashtra, the State Congress leaders are wary of Pawar’s moves as he had announced unconditional support to the BJP in Maharashtra after 2014 Assembly polls.

The BJP had emerged as a single largest party and Shiv Sena had not made up its mind to support the BJP to form the government. Pawar had then announced support to the BJP even as the BJP leaders had not asked for it. Finally, Sena joined the government and NCP had to sit in the opposition in the State Assembly.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shares cordial relations with Pawar and had praised the NCP president as an “example” to others in public life.

“I have personal respect for Sharadrao. I was Gujarat Chief Minister. He helped me walk by holding my finger. I feel proud to pronounce this publicly,” Modi had stated earlier. During his election campaign in Maharashtra PM Modi castigated Pawar but at the same time questioned on how a leader like Pawar’s stature be with the Congress.

Pawar during the election campaign had insisted that he has no plans of retiring from politics and has a long way to go.

After addressing about 80 rallies across the State , the 79-year-old veteran is on tour to drought-affected areas in Maharashtra.

Pawar was in drought affected Solapur immediately after casting his vote in Mumbai on Monday.

Published on April 30, 2019

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