Modi won't be PM after 2019 election: Sharad Pawar at Mumbai Manthan

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Modi won't be PM after 2019 election: Sharad Pawar at Mumbai Manthan

Speaking at an event in Mumbai, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that no party would be able to win a majority in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Senior parliamentarian and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has said that there would be a change in government at the Centre in 2019 Lok Sabha election. Sharad Pawar was speaking at India Today's Mumbai Manthan event in the Maharashtra capital today.

Sharad Pawar said, "I don't think that the power equations will remain same in the state [Maharashtra] and at the Centre in 2019. There would be changes in both Maharashtra and New Delhi."

"Today's political situation is much more like the one in 2004. It does not seem possible for a single party to remain in power in 2019. No party would have that mandate," Sharad Pawar said.

He said, "It would be like 2004 when no party got the majority but a government under Manmohan Singh continued for 10 years."

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister of the NDA government led by the BJP when Lok Sabha election took place in 2004. The BJP had gone into the parliamentary election with an impressive Shining India campaign but failed to win the polls.

A new coalition led by the Congress came to power at the Centre and Manmohan Singh became the prime minister. He headed the two successive governments at the Centre till 2014.

But does the Opposition have a leader to match Narendra Modi? Is there an alternative to Modi to lead a coalition of Opposition parties?

In 2004, the BJP was led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. They said there was no alternative to him, Sharad Pawar said.

"Compare Vajpayee's stature and leadership with the current prime minister's stature and leadership, I think, Vajpayee was one of the tallest leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party. I don't think that is the situation even in that party today," Pawar said.

Who if not Modi?

Sharad Pawar tried to play down the "Modi versus who" debate for 2019 polls. He said, "Who had thought in 2004 that Manmohan Singh would be the prime minister? There is never a vacuum in politics. Every situation throws up a leader."

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram yesterday said that the Congress had not projected party president Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate. Responding to the statement made by the senior Congress leader, Sharad Pawar said, "Chidambaram has stated the fact. He has placed on record the position of the Congress party."

"In my discussions with the Congress leadership, it has never occurred that they want to present someone as the candidate and insist on the candidature by thrusting their choice on other parties. But the party wants change.

Sharad Pawar said that he agreed with Chidambaram in clarifying that no leader should be projected as a prime ministerial candidate from the Opposition for 2019 election and that the prime minister should be decided by the coalition partners in post-election scenario.

"I have had talks with Rahul Gandhi also. His thoughts are not much different from what Chidambaram has said," Sharad Pawar said while rejecting the "Modi versus Rahul" style electoral battle for 2019. He said that the existing political situation in the country did not suit for a personality-based electoral contest for Lok Sabha.

Grand alliance of Opposition not possible

Sharad Pawar also rejected the theory of mahagathbandhan (grand alliance of Opposition) saying that such a political environment was not there in the country. He said that the possibility of all non-BJP parties coming together and presenting an alternative was not there.

"Who talks about mahagathbandhan? We don't. I have held talks with all the parties that can be part of an Opposition alliance over the question of providing an alternative [to the BJP-led coalition] and I don't think there are conditions to have such a thing called mahagathbandhan," Sharad Pawar said.

He said, "The ground reality is that the situation would be different in every state."

State-specific alliance will happen

Sharad Pawar presented a picture of possible grand alliance in Maharashtra by floating the idea that the NCP, the Congress, the BSP and the Swabhimani Paksha of Raju Shetty should contest Lok Sabha election together in the state.

Pawar said that the NCP and the Congress have already decided to contest the polls in Maharashtra together. He said that the NCP would talk to the Congress about having a tie-up with the BSP in Vidarbha and Raju Shetty's party in some regions of Maharashtra.

Pawar claimed that the BJP would lose the election in Rajasthan while the party will fail to retain Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh as well. The NCP chief dismissed that BSP chief Mayawati's decision to contest in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh alone was a big jolt to Opposition's unity.

"Her decision to contest elections in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh is more about expanding the base of the party than to win polls. I am confident that the BSP and the Samajwadi Party [of Akhilesh Yadav] would contest the Lok Sabha election in Uttar Pradesh together and give tough fight to the BJP," Pawar said.

Sharad Pawar has retired from electoral political. He did not contest 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He became a member of the Rajya Sabha in April 2014 just on the eve of the last Lok Sabha election.