Mumbai: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar junked the idea of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi as the opposition’s face for Prime Ministerial candidate. The 78-year-old political veteran thinks West Bengal chief minister (CM) and Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh CM and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu or Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati are better contenders for the top post.

Click here for all updates on Lok Sabha elections 2019

“Mamata, Maya, or Naidu better option for PM candidate of non-NDA parties than Congress’ Rahul,” said Pawar told Zee News in an exclusive interview.

“Does any non-NDA grand alliance still exists?” he quipped, adding, “All the talks about Rahul as a PM are baseless.”

While Mayawati has already hinted at her prime ministerial ambition, Mamata and Naidu claim defeating the BJP is their primary goal, not PM position.

Pawar, who ruled himself out of PM race, is likely to emerge as the kingmaker among opposition after the poll.

NCP chief also hinted at forging alliances with NDA parties after the election.

“We may bring some parties from NDA to our alliance after the poll,” said the NCP chief while recalling the 2004 Lok Sabha election. “In 2004, all of us fought individually without a united front. After the election, we came together. At Soniaji’s residence, Manmohanji, Pranabji and I discussed the matter and then we spoke on getting support from many non-BJP coalition partners. We provided an alternative stable government to the country for ten years. You cannot ignore that fact.”

Adding that there’s no dearth of good leaders in our country, Pawar said, “We will decide whom to select after the results are out. We have many leaders who are capable and it will be improper to name anyone now.”

“We will have magic numbers with everyone’s support. So our policy while forming the government will be on creating a common minimum programme,” said the senior leader while adding that the need of the hour is to collaborate since regional parties cannot script success beyond their stronghold.

“DMK will never yield results in UP. The same is applicable to Akhilesh’s Samajwadi party. Hence all of us have decided that we will cooperate with each other. After the elections are over, we will come with a common minimum programme to provide an alternative to the country. When we fought in 2004 there was no united front. However, after the elections we came together,” said Pawar.

 

By Sanjay Singh and Ahsan Abbas