Though Union agriculture minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has ruled out that he is a prime ministerial aspirant if the next Lok Sabha polls throw a hung parliament, his party’s top brass feels that he could emerge as a consensus candidate if the need arises.
“Pawar is on friendly terms with leaders of almost all parties that are not part of the Congress-led United Progress Alliance or BJP-led National Democratic Alliance,” said a senior NCP leader and close aide of Pawar.
“If the Congress wants to keep BJP away from power but wants a like-minded candidate who can also lead a third front government, Pawar is an acceptable name.”
The NCP top brass thinks that the Congress will be forced to support a non-BJP formation if it gets less than 150 seats.
“The Congress wants to consolidate its position in the north and a prime minister from say Uttar Pradesh would mean a major obstacle there. On the other hand, the NCP has been the Congress’ most reliable ally in past nine years,” the leader said.
Meanwhile, the NCP hopes that its current tussle with the state Congress leaders over sharing seats for Lok Sabha elections will be sorted out in Delhi.
Senior NCP leader and union heavy industries minister Praful Patel said that the party wants to maintain its 26-22 seat-sharing formula with the Congress in Maharashtra.
However, Congress leaders are insisting that the seat-sharing formula should be reworked.
“In 2009, we won 17 out of 26 seats while the NCP could win only 8 out of 22 seats,” said Maharahtra Congress president Manikrao Thakre.