Don’t See That Happening, Says Sharad Pawar as Congress Tries to Build Anti-BJP Front for 2019

In an interview to CNN-News18, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said a pre-poll grand alliance is “not practical” given the regional compulsions of parties in states.

Mumbai: The Congress is hoping to take the driver’s seat for a grand anti-BJP coalition in 2019, but key ally and NCP chief Sharad Pawar doesn’t see a pre-poll alliance taking shape before the big battle.

In an interview to CNN-News18, Pawar said such an understanding is “not practical” given the regional compulsions of parties in states. “There is a lot of media speculation, lot of write-ups about some alternative front like a mahagathbandhan (grand alliance). But I don’t see anything like that. I don’t see that possibility. Some of our friends want that, but it's not practical,” he said.

“As per my assessment, it will be a state-wise position. There might be states like Tamil Nadu, where the number one party will be the DMK and other non-BJP parties will have to accept it. If you go to Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, you will find the Congress there will be the number one party. In Andhra Pradesh, one has to accept the Telugu Desam Party. K Chandrashekhar Rao's party will the important factor in Telangana. In Odisha, (Naveen) Patnaik will be the important force. In Bengal, it will be Mamata Banerjee. These people will consolidate their position in their respective states as a state leader, as a state party and not as a gathbandhan,” the NCP chief added.

Pawar, however, did not discount the possibility of the non-BJP parties coming together after the elections. “After the election, there is every possibility that all these leaders will come together because the total thrust of the election was against the BJP. All these forces will come together and find some alternative so as not to hand the country's reins to the BJP. That I am confident of.”

“But no Mahagathbandhan prior to election,” he reiterated.

On the possibility and prospects of Congress president Rahul Gandhi becoming the prime minister, Pawar said, “I can't say that, can't say anything about any individual… Ultimately, their acceptability is important.”