Sunday, April 14, 2013

Polls could be round the corner: Pawar

MUMBAI, April 14, 2013

Predicting that the Lok Sabha polls are round the corner, Union Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday said the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre became "vulnerable," especially after the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) pulled out of the UPA last month.

However, Mr. Pawar added that since the Congress was the majority party in the UPA, the NCP would respect its view on the alliance's prime ministerial candidate. He also made it clear that he would not be contesting the coming Lok Sabha elections.

"Against this backdrop [DMK pulling out of the UPA], we have to prepare and plan for the election and I have accordingly suggested to UPA chairperson [Sonia Gandhi] to convene a meeting to discuss this," said Mr. Pawar.

The NCP chief added that it was up to the Congress to decide the UPA's prime ministerial candidate, thereby resolving the conflict by choice.

"The UPA has markedly shrunk from what it was some time ago with only the solid coalition of the Congress, the NCP and the National Conference remaining," he said.

Incidentally, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh, too, asked his party men last month to gear up for a mid-term poll.

With the political air rife with speculation on the constitution of a 'Third Front', a scheduled meeting between Mr. Pawar and Mr. Singh in the State's Sangli district was viewed with much anticipation before it was cancelled, ostensibly owing to Mr. Pawar's "ill-health".

Mr. Pawar rubbished former Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari's claim that a top UPA leader had approached the latter for help to topple the UPA government.

"The NCP has only nine MPs and the Centre cannot be toppled with their pulling out," he remarked.
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