NCP supremo Sharad Pawar can be prime minister in 2019, Opposition should unite against NDA, says Praful Patel

Karjat: A two-day discussion meeting (chintan shibir) of the Nationalist Congress Party was held on Monday at a five-star hotel at Karjat in Raigad district. Speaking to Firstpost, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel said that NCP supremo Sharad Pawar can be the Prime Minister of the country in 2019. He also asserted that his party will not join the NDA, or join the BJP-led government in Maharashtra if the Shiv Sena walks out.

Patel, at present a Rajya Sabha MP, is known to be a close confidant of Sharad Pawar.

"NCP president Sharad Pawar can be the next Prime Minister in 2019. That year will be the year of Sharad Pawar and the NCP. It will not be difficult to achieve this dream. For this, we need to start work to strengthen the party in the state. In the whole country, not a single leader can come close to our leader's stature. I have known him for four decades. In Delhi, as also in political and business circles, everyone is angry over demonetisation and the implementation of GST. We hope to give voice to this anger," Patel said.

"After May 2014, some people were enamoured by Brand Modi. But in the last three months, the Modi wave  has receded and everywhere, there are slogans against him. We hope to cash in on this sentiment," he said.

The NCP's chintan baithak in Karjat, Maharashtra. Sanjay Sawant/Firstpost

The NCP's chintan baithak in Karjat, Maharashtra. Sanjay Sawant/Firstpost

Although the NCP leader sought to project the party supremo as a prime ministerial candidate, the party has only four members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha. Speaking about this, Patel said, "The BJP will not get 283 plus Lok Sabha seats the way it did in 2014. Sharad Pawar is a strong leader who has completed six decades in politics and he understands the drama of politics. In politics, everything is possible. The anti-Modi wave is the main reason why all regional and national parties should come together against the NDA, said Patel. For this, everyone should set aside their ego. If Pawar leads the third front, then the magic will be visible in the next 18 months."

The former Minister of Civil Aviation said, "The third front needs a leader like Sharad Pawar. No one can match up to his contacts in diverse fields, and knowledge and understanding of the politics of various states."

'Discussions about alliance with BJP are rumours'

Praful Patel described discussions about an alliance with the BJP as rumours spread by 'some friends and well-wishers.'

"The Shiv Sena and the BJP are our principal enemies. Yet, I do not know why some leaders within our party have some confusion in their minds about this," Patel said.

The NCP leader also claimed that the party had been given an offer to join the NDA in the Vajpayee era as well. "In 1999, we separated from the Congress. At the time, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee invited Sharad Pawar to join the NDA and offered the number two position in the central government, equivalent to Lal Krishna Advani (Deputy Prime Minister). However, Sharad Pawar refused the offer. I was a witness to all these developments. In 1999, most leaders who practice secular politics like Mamata Banerjee, Farooq Abdullah, Nitish Kumar and Naveen Patnaik joined hands with the NDA. Even at that time, we rejected the offer. So now, there is no question of accepting it now," he said.

Outreach to Congress

Praful Patel also urged the Congress to join forces with the NCP to defeat the BJP in Gujarat and at the Centre.

"The Congress is not our enemy. Our relations with them are in the nature of kabhi khushi kabhi gham. If the Modi wave is to be defeated in Gujarat and the Centre, the Congress and the NCP must come together. If they do not do so, both parties will lose ground. In Gujarat, Modi knows that if he does not take charge of the party's campaign in the state, his party will be significantly weakened. In such a situation, it is all the more important that the Congress joins forces with us," Patel said.

He also noted that there is a possibility of elections to the Parliament and state assemblies being held together. In such a context, the year 2019 is crucial for the NCP, he said.

Updated Date: Nov 07, 2017 07:18 AM

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