Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday admitted to the possibility of the BJP emerging as the single-largest party in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, but not with the kind of majority that would ensure Prime Minister Narendra Modi a second term.
“If the BJP does not get a clear-cut majority, and I am sure that they won’t, they won’t be able to form a government by themselves. In such a situation, there’s every possibility that somebody will form a government with the support of others. But even in a case where some parties do support the BJP, they will want a leader other than Narendra Modi,” he said in an exclusive interview with NDTV.
The NCP leader claimed that the country was witnessing a definite shift in public mood against the BJP. “Rural India is practically bent on defeating Modi. They are against the Modi government, they are unhappy with the Modi government,” he said.
His daughter, Supriya Sule, dispelled suggestions of a rift in their party on account of the NCP chief’s nephew, Parth Pawar. “My blood is clearly thicker than water. I love my family very much, but this party is not built by just one family or my father or my brother. It is built by thousands of workers who gave their lives, their time, their passion, their blood and their sweat for it. So, I don’t think any of us here wants to pursue any silly, selfish agenda. Neither Parth nor I are not in politics because we are greedy for anything,” she said.
Mr Pawar had reversed his decision to contest the elections after Parth threw his hat in the ring recently. Some saw this as a sign of family rivalry.
The NCP chief rejected reports of a divided opposition too, saying that he definitely saw victory in store for the opposition coalitions in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Even in electorally crucial Uttar Pradesh, he did not see any problems with the Congress not being a part of the Bahujan Samaj Party-Samajwadi Party coalition.
“In Uttar Pradesh, a lot depends on caste combinations,” Mr Pawar said. “While the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party have their respective social bases, the Congress enjoys upper-caste support. In such a situation, I do not see the Congress’ involvement affecting the other opposition parties.”