Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar on Tuesday predicted that no single party would get a majority in the 2019 elections and that there would be change in government both at the Centre and in Maharashtra.
Likening the current political scenario to the one in 2004, the senior leader, often dubbed as ‘Chanakya’ of Indian politics, said it does not seem possible for a single party to come to power in 2019.
“I don’t think power equations will remain same in the state (Maharashtra) and Centre. It would be like 2004 when no party secured a majority but a government under (Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh continued for 10 years,” Pawar said at ‘Mumbai Manthan’ organized by India Today group in the city today.
He pointed out that the NDA government headed by (Prime Minister) Atal Behari Vajpayee had gone to elections with an impressive ‘Shining India’ campaign, but failed to win the polls.
It paved the way for a new Congress-led coalition at the Centre coming to power with Manmohan Singh as PM and he led it for two consecutive terms till, 2014.
He said in 2004, the Bharatiya Janata Party was led by Vajpayee and at that time they said “there was no alternative” to him.
“Compare Vajpayee’s stature and leadership with the present PM’s stature and leadership. I feel Vajpayee was one of the tallest leaders of the BJP. I don’t think that is the situation in that party today,” Pawar said.
Rejecting the argument of a ‘vacuum in politics,’, he sought to underplay the ‘Modi vs Who’ debate and said every political situation throws up a leader.
He asked: “Who would have thought in 2004 that Manmohan Singh would be the PM?”
In this context, he referred to senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram’s statement on Monday that the party has not projected its President Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate in 2019.
“Chidambaram has stated the fact and placed on record the Congress party’s position. In my discussions with the Congress leaders, though it is clear it wants a change, it never occurred that they want to put someone as the PM candidate and force it on other parties,” Pawar said.
He suggested that “no leader should be projected as a PM candidate from the Opposition in 2019 and the PM should be decided by coalition partners only in a post-election scenario.”
Pawar said that the current political situation does not warrant a popularity-based electoral contest, dismissing the ‘Modi versus Rahul’ theory in 2019.
The NCP chief also said in the given political environment, a ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (grand Opposition alliance) of all non-BJP parties uniting to project an alternative was not possible.
“We (NCP) don’t speak about such a ‘Mahagathbandhan’. I have held talks with all the parties over an opposition alliance to provide an alternative (to the BJP), but there are no conditions existing for such a force (to develop). The ground realities are very different in each state,” Pawar said.