Amid speculation among opposition leaders across parties for the prime ministerial post for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Nationalist Congress Party MP Praful Patel on Sunday said that party chief Sharad Pawar “neither was, nor is” the PM candidate.
However, Patel added that his party chief can “bring together” various people and ideologies. The remarks of the NCP MP came a day after Pawar was re-elected as the president of the party.
Speaking to the media after the conclusion of the eighth national convention of the party in the national capital, Patel said, “Sharad Pawar neither was, nor is the prime ministerial candidate. Neither has he made any such statement. We are aware of the reality. We know about our limitations. Our party might be smaller in comparison to the other parties, but our leadership is big. Sharad Pawar is not the face of the Opposition. He is not in the race.” Further clarifying, he added that it should not be understood that “we are in the race for leadership”.
Patel also dismissed the speculation of NCP being an alternative to the BJP and said that Pawar is can build an atmosphere “that can build trust among people”.
“A question is always asked who will be up against the present ruling government in the country? Sharad Pawar is a strong leader who can bring various people and ideologies together and through which we can play a strong political role. We will play the responsibility of the Opposition. We do not want to say that we will be the alternative, but through Sharad Pawar, an atmosphere can be built that can build trust among people,” said Patel. He emphasised that NCP and Sharad Pawar will play an “important role” in future.
“NCP has completed its 23 years and during this period, it has got the recognition of a national party. NCP will play an important role in future given the political atmosphere today, in which Sharad Pawar will also have a crucial role to play,” he said.
“We don’t have any issue with Congress, have worked with UPA in the past,” Patel added.
The declaration by the NCP comes amid the attempts by the Opposition leaders like Telagana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and others to bring together the like-minded parties against the BJP. Recently, KCR had visited Bihar and shared the stage with Kumar, where he said that the decision on the PM candidate will be taken after discussions.
‘Kumar had visited the national capital earlier where he met Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as part of the same attempt to bring the leaders on one platform.
The race for the prime ministerial candidature from the Opposition group is seemingly growing tighter with the possible names popping up which include West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Delhi CM Kejriwal, KCR, Rahul Gandhi, and Nitish Kumar.
The Opposition had made attempts to bring together all the leaders on a single page in 2019 general elections, however, the BJP beat them to emerge victorious with even more number of seats than in 2014. The BJP had won 282 seats in 2014 polls while it returned to power with 303 seats.