“The BJP may emerge as the single largest party post parliamentary elections and will have to seek support of allies (to form the government). In that scenario, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unlikely to get a second term,” Pawar said.
It must be noted that the BJP has taken the early lead by firming up alliances in several key states for the general elections. The Congress and regional parties, on the other hand, have failed to untangle the mess that is seat sharing and personal ambitions.
While the BJP has had uneasy relations at times with some of its allies, many leaders feel the party president Amit Shah has walked the extra mile to ensure they remained in the ruling National Democratic Alliance by offering them a generous seat-sharing deal, as in Bihar, and by accommodating most of their concerns.
However, in some states there is a palpable tension underneath the surface. For example, the BJP’s two allies in Uttar Pradesh – Apna Dal and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party – have been airing their grievances. The saffron party leaders, however, have expressed confidence that they will remain in the NDA fold.
It is on this premise probably that Pawar feels that the allies will not be too keen to have Modi as the Prime Minister candidate the second time. The Shiv Sena, not too long ago, was seen taking regular taking potshots at the Prime Minister. At one point the Sena even suggested that they will be happy to Nitin Gadkari, a Maharastra man and Union Minister, for PM’s candidature if the BJP falls short of the numbers. Gadkari, on his part, has denied harbouring any prime ministerial ambition.
The Lok Sabha elections for 543 seats will be held over seven phases, beginning April 11 and ending May 19, while results would be announced on May 23.
The former Union minister said he will meet some regional parties across the country on March 14 and 15 in New Delhi, where further strategy of ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) will be discussed.
When asked about some regional parties going away from the Congress and NCP alliance in Maharashtra, Pawar said, “I appreciate the PWP for extending support to the NCP in the Lok Sabha election. NCP has also held talks with the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna (SSS) for seat-sharing, but the farmers’ front has some expectations from the Congress as well. It will be decided by these two parties.”
On Monday, Pawar had said he will not contest next month’s Lok Sabha election.
The 78-year-old veteran politician had said as two members of his family are going to contest the polls, “somebody had to step back.”
However, Pawar had earlier announced that his party workers wanted him to contest from Madha constituency in Solapur district, currently represented by NCP leader Vijaysinh Mohite Patil.
Reacting to Pawar’s announcement of not contesting the Lok Sabha polls, Fadnavis had said the NCP leader “sensed the change in the air”, and decided to rethink on plans to contest Lok Sabha poll from Madha LS seat.
On the chief minister’s remarks, Pawar said, “It is childish to call my decision as defeat as I have won elections 14 times, including the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections that I contested so far. On the other hand, late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and (BJP veteran) L K Advani had tasted defeat.”