The Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP’s) presence at the ‘Convention for People’s Unity Against Communalism’ sponsored by Left parties in New Delhi created a flutter in the political circles. The presence of NCP leader DP Tripathi at the convention on Wednesday was significant as party chief Sharad Pawar recently made it clear that he would not like to work under Rahul Gandhi if the Congress made him prime minister if it formed the next government.
Pawar’s contention was that Rahul lacked administrative experience. It is not clear if the NCP on Wednesday was only posturing to extract maximum number of seats for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from the Congress (its ally) or whether it will severe ties with the UPA-II and join hands with the Third Front comprising non-Congress and non-BJP parties. “It is well known that Pawar has been nurturing the ambition of becoming prime minister. He thinks the Third Front will help him fulfil this ambition,” a political observer said.
At a book release function in Nagpur, Pawar had said that neither the Congress nor the BJP will reach the magical figure of 272 which is necessary to form the government. Pawar, who shared the dais with former BJP president Nitin Gadkari at the event, said: “No one is untouchable in politics.”
Sources close to Pawar said there is a huge anti-Congress sentiment across the country. “The UPA-II government will be remembered for its scams (2G, coal scam, Commonwealth Games) and corruption. People are angry with price rise. Therefore, there is a slim chance of the Congress coming to power in 2014. It is better to break the alliance before the polls and join the Third Front,” a senior NCP activist told dna.
Pawar supporters believe this is the agriculture minister’s last chance of becoming prime minister. “If he does not pull out all his resources now, he will never become PM,” a senior state NCP leader said.
Pawar remained unavailable for comment.
Fighting against communalism
Sharad Pawar’s Man Friday Praful Patel told dna that the NCP attended the rally in Delhi as it was against communalism. “Apart from the NCP, Nitish Kumar, Mulayam Singh Yadav and those from the AIADMK and BJD were there. We are not leaving UPA-II; we will join hands with anyone who fights against communalism,” Patel said