Mumbai: NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Monday pitched his formula on who should stake claim to the Prime Minister’s post from the opposition camp in 2019, saying that a decision should be put off till after the election.
Pawar, who has thrust himself into the key role of uniting opposition parties, said the aim right should only be to oust the BJP from power. “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 said.
The 78-year-old also called attention to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s Sunday statement in which he had asserted that he was not driven by ambition to become PM and said he was “happy” about Gandhi’s decision. "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.
Pawar pressed for forging alliances of anti-BJP parties at state level and favoured picking up the prime ministerial candidate after the election results, as had happened after the 1977 and 2004 general polls.
Raising concerns over the alleged instances of EVM tampering, Pawar asked the Election Commission to revert to using ballot papers during polling.
Congress leaders Ashok Gehlot and Ashok Chavan and NCP leaders Praful Patel and Jayant Patil would discuss seat sharing between the two parties in a week or two, he said.
Pawar recalled how parties came together in a post-poll arrangement to dislodge incumbent parties from power in 1977 and 2004. In 1977, Congress tasted defeat and non-Congress parties had come together to form government led by Moraraji Desai.
The Congress-led UPA was formed in 2004 after elections against the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA. "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," Pawar said.
"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.
The Maratha strongman said he would "try to go to each state and make regional parties which are not with the BJP to join us (the opposition alliance)".
He noted that Congress is strong in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati-led BSP and Samajawadi Party headed by Akhilesh Yadav are strong, he said.
"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 added.
When asked if the MNS would be part of the anti-BJP alliance, Pawar said this issue hasn't been discussed. Pawar said MNS chief Raj Thackeray met him on Sunday and expressed "strong views" about the alleged misuse of EVMs.