Signalling a shift from his earlier stand, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said a mahagathbandhan (anti-Bharatiya Janata Party grand alliance) before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls is not practical.
“A ‘mahagathbandhan’ prior to the elections is not practical,” he told CNN-News18 TV channel.
“In fact, there is a lot of (speculations in) the media, a lot of write-ups about some alternative, some front like a ‘mahagathbandhan.’ I don’t see any possibility of a ‘mahagathbandhan’ or anything. There are certain of our friends. They want that. But that is not practical,” Pawar said.
Indicating that regional parties will play a major role after the elections, Pawar said, “My own thinking and assessment is that ultimately it will be a state-wise position. There might be states like Tamil Nadu, where the number one party will be Dravida Munnetra Kazagham and other non-BJP parties will have to accept it.”
“If you go to Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab, you will find that the Congress is the number one party there or in Andhra (Pradesh), one has to accept that the Telugu Desam will be the number one party or K Chandrasekar Rao will be the important factor in Telangana or in Odisha, (Naveen) Patnaik will be the major force or in Kolkata, Mamata Banerjee will be the major force,” he said.
“These people will consolidate their positions in their respective states as a state leader, as a state party, not as a gathbandhan (alliance). But after the election there is every possibility that all these leaders will come together because the total thrust of the election (will be) against the BJP,” Pawar said.
The former Union minister said he was “confident” of “these forces” coming together after the 2019 elections but saw no possibility of a “Mahagathbandhan” prior to the polls.”
Earlier this month, Pawar had said all opposition parties should come together to take on the BJP in next year’s Lok Sabha polls and had offered to play the role of a unifier, as he sensed the 1977-like situation when Indira Gandhi was voted out of power by a coalition of parties.
The NCP chief, who was earlier in the Congress, had recalled that in 1977 too, the opposition unity had resulted in the defeat of the then Congress government led by Indira Gandhi and said a similar situation was prevailing now.
“The anti-BJP parties who believe in democracy and having a common minimum programme should keep in mind the wishes of the people and come together. I would be happy to be part of the process to unite all like-minded parties,” the 77-year-old leader had said.
He had said non-National Democratic Alliance national and regional parties that have a strong base in their respective regions should arrive at an understanding to come together.