After Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Vilas Paswan, Sharad Pawar is aiming his shot at the Congress.
The NCP chief delivered a shock to his ally by opening a channel with the Third Front. On Friday, Pawar will share the stage with Third Front leaders at a rally in Bhubaneswar. Present on the occasion will be Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, CPM’s Prakash Karat, the moving force behind the Front, and CPI’s A.B. Bardhan.
Pawar’s move is being seen as an effort to position himself for a post-poll situation in which leaders and parties may be jostling for dominance in case of a fractured mandate.
The Congress hasn’t taken kindly to Pawar’s decision to have one foot in the UPA and the other in the Third Front.
“I do not know how he will reconcile this,” said spokesman Veerappa Moily. The Congress leader said Pawar’s decision to participate in the rally is wrong.
“ It is a wrong step on his part. The Third Front is not a part of the UPA. In Maharashtra he is with the UPA. This kind of step will not be either in his own interest or that of UPA’s.”
Moily held a similar view with regard to the SP, the RJD and the LJP’s decision to form a separate group in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and said that coalition dharma applies to everyone. “This kind of confusion will reflect on their position — both whether in the UPA or the Third Front,” he said, claiming the Congress has always kept the trust of its partners.
But like the others, the NCP too was upset with the Congress for ruling out a national-level UPA alliance. Unlike them, however, Pawar’s party has hammered out a seat sharing arrangement with the Congress in Maharashtra and Goa and is holding further talks for a similar deal in Bihar and Gujarat.
But, at the same time, in Orissa it has joined forces with the Third Front that is increasingly emerging at the Congress’ main challenger in the Lok Sabha polls.
“UPA constituents were forced to adopt independent strategies after the Congress ruled out a pre-poll national alliance,” said NCP spokesman D.P. Tripathi.
He had said on Tuesday that Manmohan Singh was the Congress’s prime ministerial candidate and not the UPA’s. Tripathi had also noted that if the UPA fails to hold its own in the elections, the NCP would explore the Third Front option. “We have taken the position that if the UPA does not get a majority, we should talk to the Third Front.”