NEW DELHI, 18 JUNE: The blow hot, blow cold relationship between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party struck a conciliatory note today with the latter saying it would welcome any move by the former to go to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections under the stewardship of Mr Rahul Gandhi.
The minister of state for agriculture and food processing and senior NCP leader, Mr Tariq Anwar, told The Statesman the NCP will abide by any decision to project the Congress vice president as the party’s face to lead the 2014 parliamentary polls as well as to project him as the prime ministerial candidate of UPA-III. "The NCP has a considered view on this issue that the Congress being the largest constituent of the UPA has every right to choose its prime ministerial candidate for the next elections,” Mr Anwar said. If the Congress decides about Rahul, the NCP will have no objections, he said. The NCP leader also confirmed that his party will contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in alliance with Congress at least in three states, Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat. In other states, he said the party is looking for alliances with other like-minded parties.
Welcoming the decision of the JD-U to quit the NDA over the BJP’s decision to elevate Mr Narendra Modi, Mr Anwar said his party will have no inhibitions in joining hands with Mr Nitish Kumar in Bihar now. Denying differences with the Congress on any issue, Mr Anwar, who is also the NCP general secretary, said: “Now a coordination committee has been put in place which meets on regular basis and it is functioning to our satisfaction. Whatever differences we have on issues we iron out through discussions.” Mr Anwar, however, clarified that his party is against the Centre’s intended move to push through the Food Security Bill via an ordinance. “The NCP is opposed to such an important legislation being brought into effect by simply promulgating an ordinance. What is the hurry to adopt the ordinance route,” he asked. Asked about Mr Sharad Pawar’s chances of becoming Prime Minister, the NCP leader said as a UPA constituent the right to select the PM goes to the Congress, but in the event of the Congress failing to form a government and the choice of other like-minded political outfits falling on Mr Pawar, "he (Pawar) will not shirk from the responsibilities to lead the country”.
Mr Anwar said Mr Pawar has all the attributes to become a Prime Minister but the numerical strength of his party would not permit it. “However, if other secular political outfits want him, he will not run away,” he added.