Mumbai: NCP chief Sharad Pawar has come up with a formula to solve the thorny issue of the prime ministerial candidate of the probable united opposition front which aims to take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Also Read - West Bengal: All Students of Class 1 to 8 to be Promoted to Next Class Directly
Stating that he was “happy” that Rahul Gandhi has made it clear that he was not drive by prime ministerial ambitions, Pawar said on Monday that the party getting the maximum number of seats after 2019 polls would claim the post. Also Read - Mamata Banerjee Writes to PM Modi, Seeks Rs 25,000 Crore Financial Assistance Amid Lockdown
“Let elections take place, remove these people (BJP) from power. We will sit together. Whichever party has got more seats can claim the prime minister’s post,” Pawar, 78, said. Also Read - 'Mishti & Rosogulla' Are Apparently 'Essential' for Bengalis, So Sweet Shops In WB Will Run for 4 Hours Daily
“And I am happy that the Congress leader (Rahul Gandhi) has also said he is not in the race for the prime minister’s post,” he said at a party meeting in Mumbai.
Rahul Gandhi, during an interaction with the Indian Journalists’ Association in London on Saturday, had said that he does not have visions of becoming next prime minister while adding that he only sees himself as the one who is “fighting an ideological battle”.
“I don’t have these visions. I view myself as fighting an ideological battle and this change has come in me after 2014. I realised that there’s a risk to Indian state, to the Indian way of doing things and I’m defending that. I just get up in morning think of how do I defend the Indian institutional structure and how do I make sure that the country I love works together,” he added.
Pawar also reminded NCP leaders how the UPA, formed after the 2004 general election, had dislodged the BJP-led NDA, formed in 1998. He said he will “try to go to each state and make regional parties which are not with the BJP to join us (the opposition alliance)”.
“In 2004, no (non-BJP) party had majority. No leader or party was projected (as prime ministerial face). The BJP had then launched a massive India Shining campaign but was defeated. Similarly, Narendra Modi is a strong competitor (now). But don’t worry, the common man of this country is more aware and smarter than us,” Pawar said.
“Congress is strong in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati-Akhilesh are there. Situation is different in each state. Hence, we will have to get along with parties which are strong in each state,” the former Union minister said.
Earlier this month, Pawar had suggested that three leaders – UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former PM HD Deve Gowda and he – can come together to united the Opposition in order to dethrone the BJP government in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
He had also opined that the crucial question that who could be the prime ministerial candidate should be left for after the elections.
With barely eight months to go for the Lok Sabha polls, the issue of prime ministerial candidate has been a bone of contention between the opposition parties who are planning to forge an alliance to dethrone the BJP at the Centre.
Parties like RJD, SP and BSP have expressed their reservations on Rahul Gandhi being projected as the PM face.
Last month, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav had said that Gandhi is not the only leader from the opposition in the race for the PM post, adding that leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu, Sharad Pawar and Mayawati are also prominent names that can be the united opposition’s prime ministerial candidate.
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, who has met several anti-BJP party leaders in the past few months, has also hinted at her ambition for the post of prime minister in 2019.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has also said that the nation would see a new prime minister after 2019 elections.
On the other hand, Lok Janshakti Party leader and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Saturday said that there was no vacancy for the post of prime minister in 2019. The united opposition front should start worrying about the 2024 elections, as Modi faces no challenge in 2014, he had said.