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Not leaving UPA, says Pawar

india Updated: Mar 14, 2009 02:16 IST
Sujata Anandan
Sujata Anandan
Hindustan Times
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Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar on Friday denied he had any plans of ditching the Congress and going with the Third Front in a post-poll arrangement to give himself a shot at becoming prime minister.

Pawar told Hindustan Times: “Those who read more into these statements than I actually mean are absolute fools. All I was saying is that we have to guard against alienating the Left parties who supported our government for four years.’’

The NCP leader, who was campaigning in his new constituency of Madha in western Maharashtra, was referring to his recent statements, which, he said, had been mistakenly interpreted to mean he was preparing to take charge of the non-Congress, non-BJP leadership after the polls.

The Maratha warlord said: “If the Congress and its allies come to power on their own, I can assure you we will provide a stable government at the Centre. But just presuming we don’t get the magic number, we will once again have to seek the Left’s support. In that sense, it is my view that we should not denigrate the Left parties and keep our options open for seeking support from other secular parties.’’

Pawar also dismissed as “absolute rubbish’’ reports that he was cavorting with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra to facilitate his bid to become Prime Minister in June.

“How can the Shiv Sena ever be part of a secular front?” he asked, “It is a partner of the BJP and we are clearly looking to the Left and some other secular parties for support in case we do not get the numbers.”

His statement on Thursday on the launch of the Third Front, backed by an impressive show of strength in Karnataka, did cause ripples with reports suggesting he was talking to H.D. Deve Gowda, J. Jayalalithaa and Navin Patnaik (who is not technically a member of the front yet).

Political observers said it’s possible Pawar is doing some re-think here, given that Mayawati has put her hat in the ring for the Front’s candidate for the top job. The Maharash-tra strongman doesn’t fancy his chances much now.