NCP chief Sharad Pawar feels there are grim portents for Indian democracy in "concentration of power" in the hands of BJP's PM aspirant Narendra Modi as seen by the marginalisation of party veterans like L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.
He feels strongly about Modi "propagating" the slogan of a Congress-free India, which has left everybody "shaken", and the BJP leader's prediction that Lok Sabha polls will herald the end of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, saying the family was "symbolic representative of the unity of India".
"Advani is the founder member of BJP, its former president. He wanted to contest from Bhopal but had to go back to Gandhinagar against his wish. Murli Manohar Joshi, also a former chief, wanted to contest from his old seat but had to shift.Jaswant Singh, an efficient foreign minister, good finance minister and Parliamentarian...Mr Modi decided to keep him away and he had to keep away and now he is contesting as an independent.
"I feel sorry about that. Modi wants to control his party. Of course it is his party and I cannot say anything but concentrated power always gets corrupt and it ultimately affects the common people," he told PTI in an interview.
Pawar again likened Modi to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.
"We have seen Hitler, he was elected from a democratic set up. He concentrated power in himself and the whole world has seen how he eliminated the Jews, attacked other people, misused authority. Today, the examples of Advani, Joshi and Singh are illustrative of how power has started concentrating in Modi's hand. It's just the beginning," Pawar said.
Pawar, a former Congressman, said people do not like Modi's idea of a Congress-free India and feels it could boomerang on BJP's PM hopeful.
"When Modi started his 'Congress mukt' mission, everybody was shaken. That hurt. People don't like the idea of a Congress-free India. Our own thinking is what we learnt from Nehru, Gandhi and Gandhian thinking. Babasaheb Ambedkar provided us a Constitution which gave tremendous power to the common people. I don't know why Modi raised this (slogan)," Pawar said.
Asked if it can boomerang on Modi and BJP, Pawar said, "I think so. When I go to villages and towns, people raise this issue."
The NCP veteran also attacked Modi over his assertion that the Lok Sabha poll will mark the end of Nahru-Gandhi 'dynasty'.
"It is not the question of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, it is the question of Nehru-Gandhi ideology. It is symbolic representative of a particular Congress ideology, of the unity of this nation, of secularism of this country.
"I don't think the glorious history of a country can be erased. Anybody can create history but nobody can destroy or eliminate the glorious history of a nation," he said.
Asked if Modi and BJP, having toned down their Hindutva rhetoric and talking of inclusive politics, would now be able to take all sections along, Pawar replied in the negative, saying once in power they will go back to contentious issues of Ram temple, uniform civil code and abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.
"100 %. They have said about these things in their manifesto, may be not very prominently but at least something is there. Tomorrow, they can say, yes, we had told the people about our thinking," he said.
On whether he expected Modi, regarded an able administrator and a decisive leader, to end the policy paralysis alleged to be plaguing the government at the Centre, Pawar said the BJP leader's personalised style and data on development raised doubts about his being a competent administrator.