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Anyone but BJP, says Pawar

Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar stirred up a hornet’s nest when he said his party was open to an alliance with “anyone but the BJP”, report Satyajit Joshi & Dharmendra Jore.

india Updated: Feb 19, 2009 00:51 IST

Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday stirred up a hornet’s nest when he said his party was open to an alliance with “anyone but the BJP”.

Pawar’s statement is being seen as a veiled threat to the Congress, which is locked in a tussle with the NCP over seat-sharing for the upcoming Parliamentary elections.

Pawar’s statement is seen particularly as an indication that his party is open to an alliance with the Shiv Sena.

It also assumes significance following media reports that Sena executive pUddhav Thackeray had a meeting with Pawar in New Delhi earlier this week.

Talking to reporters in Sangli on Thursday, Pawar said his party was ready to have an alliance with any party other than the BJP.

He also added that he had personal relationship with Thackeray family and no political inference should be drawn out of the meeting. Pawar also pointed out that his party’s strength had increased in Maharashtra in past few years.

Pawar’s statement caused a panic in both camps—the ruling Congress-NCP alliance as well as the Opposition Sena-BJP combine. Alliance partners in both camps are locked in disputes over seat sharing for parliamentary elections. Both regional parties—NCP and Sena want more seats from their national partners, Congress and BJP respectively.

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan reacted cautiously saying secular forces should come together. Panic button was pressed in the BJP as the party leaders were worried over alliance partner Sena’s overtures to Pawar.

Party leaders Gopinath Munde, Nitin Gadkari and Vinod Tawde rushed to Ahmedabad where they had a long meeting with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, also party’s pointsman for BJP Maharashtra unit.

Munde told HT that his party was confident that Sena would not dump the BJP for the NCP.

First Published: Feb 19, 2009 00:49 IST