Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar Tuesday said his party and the Congress are in talks with all like-minded and secular parties to forge an alliance for future elections. Pawar said NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his Congress counterpart Rahul Gandhi jointly want that all secular parties should come together to defeat the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
Replying to a query on a seat-sharing formula between the NCP and the Congress, the former deputy chief minister said, "We have mentally prepared ourselves 100 per cent to move ahead with Congress in any situation. We will decide accordingly". The NCP, which was part of the Congress-led governments for three terms before the UPA was defeated in 2014, had contested the last assembly polls separately.
Pawar also said the leaders of the Congress and NCP are already in talks with Jogendra Kawade, Rajendra Gavai, Prakash Ambedkar--who all head Dalit outfits, besides with Raju Shetty of Shetkari Swabhiman Paksha, Abu Azmi of Samajwadi Party (SP) and the CPI(M). "Our leaders are deliberating on demands of these outfits for forging an alliance. They will meet again on November 2 at Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil's residence to discuss the prospective alliance," he said.
When asked if Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Nanvirman Sena (MNS) would be a part of the Congress-NCP alliance, Pawar said, "We think that parties that are opposed to the BJP and the Shiv Sena and have secular leanings should be taken along". When pointed out that MNS had criticised the NCP and Congress in the past, Pawar said nothing is permanent in politics. Replying to a query on functioning of EVM (Electronic Voting Machines), the NCP leader said he trusts them.
"I personally have trust in EVMs. There may be different opinions on EVMs, but in that case one should prove the allegations (about tampering of these machines). "Had EVMs been faulty then results in Karnataka, Punjab, Bihar and in Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha bypoll in Maharashtra (where the BJP lost) could have been different," he said.
He said many candidates won the 2014 elections due to the "Modi wave" prevailing at that time. He said people are now "disillusioned" with the Narendra Modi government. Pawar also attacked the BJP-led Maharashtra government for not declaring drought in the state. The NCP leader demanded compensation of Rs 50000 per hectare for farmers whose crops have failed.
When asked about power shortage in Maharashtra, Pawar said, "We suspect that coal from Maharashtra mines is being supplied in additional quantity to some poll-bound states. "Similarly, the financial condition of the Energy ministry has become delicate while the pending dues are piling up," he alleged.
(With inputs from agencies.)