'Modi is insensitive'
For his allies and rivals, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar is an unpredictable politician. His statement that the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi couldn’t be blamed for the 2002 riots in Gujarat drew comments that termed him insensitive and fascist.
During his whirlwind campaign ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, he speaks to Sanjay Jog about those expected to play prominent roles in the elections.
Your clean chit to Narendra Modi created a storm in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.
I have clarified, at least a dozen times, there is no question of me giving a clean chit to Modi. The court has said something and we all have to respect that.
At the same time, I have repeatedly said if I am chief minister of a state and riots take place, I cannot bypass my moral responsibility.
Modi is insensitive, as he didn’t even bother to meet the riot-affected families, especially from the minority community, and offer sympathy.
When Modi was chief minister, a Congress member of Parliament was burnt 20 km away from the state capital. But Modi didn’t even bother to meet the bereaved family. How can such a person assure the well-being of the country?
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'I don't see Modi becoming prime minister'
The BJP is betting on Modi to dislodge the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.
In earlier Lok Sabha elections, right from the era of Nehru, we have not heard a prime ministerial nominee being declared before the polls. However, the BJP declared its nominee well before the commencement of the poll process. This is an insult to the Constitution.
This is all publicity gimmickry, especially through electronic and social media. I recall Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji had never sought votes for himself, but for the party, which he always held supreme. As a leader, Modi is all out to break the country.
The BJP might emerge as the single-largest party. The Congress is also improving its position. However, the BJP won’t be in a position to reach the magic figure of 272.
I don’t see Modi becoming prime minister. He hardly knows anything about the country’s history. Also, he lacks knowledge about the freedom struggle.
Mamata Banerjee, J Jayalalithaa, Mayawati and Navin Patnaik will do well.
Also, the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party’s performance will have to be watched carefully. These parties will have a say in the formation of the next government at the Centre.
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'There is no question of joining the NDA'
Will you change sides and join the National Democratic Alliance in the event of a fractured mandate?
Our party has been with the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre for a decade, and for 15 years in Maharashtra. The NCP will remain with the UPA even after the elections. There is no question of joining the NDA.
In Maharashtra, the Congress and the NCP are fighting the elections in close coordination, and the alliance will continue even during the assembly elections slated for this year. The NCP will improve its tally to double digits.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray claimed that he blocked your entry into NDA. How do you react?
Who is he to block my entry? I had never approached them. The NCP never considered option of joining of NDA. Uddhav's comment is a joke of the year.
What do you have to say on the verbal duel between Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and his estranged brother and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray?
Why should I react? But I must say that Uddhav had inherited his father, Balasaheb Thackeray’s party. On the other hand, Raj has built the MNS. Raj is getting good response after the crowd that gathered at two meetings he addressed. The MNS, therefore, cannot be underestimated and taken lightly.