Amid growing speculation that all is not well between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), latter’s chief Sharad Pawar on Monday said that he is not averse to joining a Third Front government at the Centre if the UPA fails to get majority after the General Elections.
Pawar, however, expressed confidence that the Congress-led UPA will retain power after the Lok Sabha elections.
Speaking to reporters, the NCP chief hinted that he is not averse to the idea of cobbling together a government with the Third Front should the ruling alliance fall short of a majority.
“There is no Third Front as on today. These type of situations develop after the elections and then some viable alternative does emerge,” Pawar said.
Asked if he saw such an alternative emerging this time also, he said, “Not yet. Let me tell you frankly, as of today, I have not gone to other states. I will be able to go after April 24 (when polling for last phase in Maharashtra ends).”
“That is why, I have not properly assessed (the situation)…I could not get the opportunity to interact with leaders of other parties because of my own responsibility,” Pawar said in an interview.
He, however, said a decision on a Third Front will be taken after due consultation with the Congress.
“Definitely. You see, these types of decisions are not taken by any individual, for a national level situation. We will discuss with Congress and take a collective decision. The effort (to form Third Front) should also be collective, if required,” the 74-year-old NCP leader, said to be harbouring prime ministerial ambitions since long, said.
To a query if such an effort will be before the polls, Pawar said, “No, no. There is ample time after polling and before counting. From April 24 to May 16, there is ample time available.”
Asked if he had broached the subject with Congress, Pawar replied in the negative. Prodded if he proposed to, he said, “(it) depends on situation.”
“I do believe that we should try to keep an excellent rapport with others also,” he said.
Notwithstanding the media hype surrounding BJP’s prime ministerial contender Narendra Modi, Pawar, known to have his ear close to the ground, said numbers would not add up for the NDA and voiced confidence that UPA will not be short of allies in the event of failing to secure a majority.
“If you have to provide a credible alternative, there has to be the numbers. That number (272 seats) they (BJP) will never reach. I can understand one or two seats here and there but beyond that, I don’t think that type of situation will be there,” Pawar said.
“I cannot say that Congress or UPA will get a clear cut majority. But we will get a respectable number,” Pawar said.
“Also, those who are regional forces, there are very few who will prefer to support Modi. I don’t think Mamata Banerjee will associate with BJP. It is true that she was part of NDA but then she was part of UPA also,” he said.
Pawar said Mamata was quite happy to work in West Bengal as chief minister and her going with BJP or NDA will “disturb sizeable sections” supporting her now.
“It is a sizeable section, almost 20 per cent votes. In that situation, she will never think of supporting NDA,” Pawar said.
“She may not be happy in supporting Congress but she will definitely keep away from BJP. In that situation, with some discussion, there is every possibility that she will prefer a Congress-led government,” the NCP chief said.