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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Mayawati, Mamata and Chandrababu Naidu in Sharad Pawar’s PM list, Rahul Gandhi missing

NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who has been insisting that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is unlikely to return to power, told a television channel on Saturday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, was a chief minister before becoming PM.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 29, 2019 09:51 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
lok sabha elections 2019,sharad pawar,ncp
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is among the leaders that NCP chief Sharad Pawar believes are “better options” for the prime ministership, given their experience as chief ministers.(ANI )

A day before the last phase of polling in Maharashtra, differences between the Congress and its ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) came to the fore on Sunday. While NCP chief Sharad Pawar said administrative experience made West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu “better options” for the prime ministership, the Congress insisted they would get adequate seats to form the government with its president Rahul Gandhi as prime minister.

Pawar, who has been insisting that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is unlikely to return to power, told a television channel on Saturday that Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi, too, was a chief minister before becoming PM.

Pawar said that experience as chief minister of their respective states could act in the favour of the three leaders he named when discussions arise over who to consider for the top post in the country.Pawar also said Gandhi has already clarified that he was not in the race for prime ministership.

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Pawar’s remarks have not gone down well with the Congress in the state. “It is not clear in what context he has reacted, but it could be his personal opinion. We are sure about getting clear majority in the Lok Sabha polls and our president Rahul Gandhi is our choice for the (PM) post,” said Sachin Sawant, Congress general secretary and spokesperson.

According to a section of Congress leaders, Pawar is unlikely to support Gandhi for the post, in the same way he had refused to support Sonia Gandhi when Sonia entered politics.

“Rahul Gandhi has never said that he was not in the race, but Pawar will not accept him easily. Ahead of 2014, he had said openly that in his opinion, Rahul was not mature enough for the post. It cannot be overlooked that he was actively trying for a grand alliance of smaller parties ahead of elections,” another Congress leader said.

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Political analyst Hemant Desai said the timing behind Pawar’s statement is important. “He has attempted to polarise middle class votes who would not prefer to vote for Rahul Gandhi or his party. By his remarks he has sent out a message that there could be another option if the electorate is determined to throw out the Modi government. The statement could even help Mayawati and Banerjee in their respective states to gain more votes by projecting them as potential PM candidate,” Desai said.

Pawar was actively involved in forming the grand alliance of opposition parties ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. However, parties led by Banerjee, Mayawati and Naidu have not joined the Congress-led United Progress Alliance (UPA), keeping all possibilities open after the elections.

According to political observers, though Pawar has said that he is not in the race for prime ministership, he may make last-ditch attempt if there is a hung parliament. The NCP chief’s statement is also an indication to the three leaders that a broader coalition of opposition parties can be formed after the election, observers said. “Even Naidu has clarified that he was not in race, but if the situation permits after the results, he will throw his hat into the ring,” a Congress leader said.

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First Published: Apr 29, 2019 09:50 IST

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