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Pawar to decide on supporting Sonia as PM

Rediff Election Bureau | May 13, 2004 21:00 IST

Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar is yet to make up his mind on supporting Congress President Sonia Gandhi as prime minister, even though she has led her party to an impressive performance at the hustings.

"The Congress party has made its position absolutely clear. If they get an absolute majority on their own they will project their own leader, and they have the right to do so. But simultaneously, it is also saying that if they do not get an absolute majority they will talk to other parties. Today the Congress has got around 140, 150 seats, so they will have to discuss with other parties, and that will happen tomorrow. We will discuss and take a final view," he said in the course of an interview to the NDTV 24x7 television channel.

Asked about his options if the final view came out in her favour, especially since the Left has indicated its willingness to support her, he said, "We have not received any specific proposal about any individual including, Smt Gandhi."

"We have made a public commitment to the people of India that we will work with the Congress and try to provide a viable solution," he added. "So it is our reponsibility to provide a stable government. Now who should lead the government, who should take that responsibility, these are questions that will be discussed collectively. So unless we discuss, I would not like to say anything in public."

In Maharashtra, his home state, the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine has done well, winning 25 of the 48 seats, with the Congress-NCP alliance bagging the rest. "We were expecting much more. The last time we got around 16 seats. We lost about 10 seats by a small margin of around 2,000 to 3,000 votes."

"We will have to work much harder as a result," Pawar, who had raised Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin in 1999 for which he was expelled from the party, added.

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