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Saturday 17 November, 2018, 7:05 am
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Modi won't be PM after 2019 election: Sharad Pawar at Mumbai Manthan

Senior parliamentarian and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has said that there would be a change of government at the Centre in 2019 Lok Sabha election. Sharad Pawar was speaking at India Today's Mumbai Manthan event in the Maharashtra capital today.

Sharad Pawar said, "I don't think that the power equation will remain same in state (Maharashtra) and at the Centre in 2019. There would be change in both Maharashtra and New Delhi."

"Today's political situation is much more like that prevailed in 2004. It does not seem possible for a single party to remain in power in 2019. No party would have that mandate," Sharad Pawar said.

He said, "It would be like 2004 when no party got the majority but a government under Manmohan Singh continued for 10 years."

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister of the NDA government led by the BJP when Lok Sabha election took place in 2004. The BJP had gone into the parliamentary election with an impressive Shining India campaign but the BJP-led NDA lost the polls.

A new coalition led by the Congress came in power at the Centre and Manmohan Singh became the prime minister. He headed the two successive governments at the Centre till 2014.

But does the Opposition have a leader to match Narendra Modi? Is there an alternative to Modi to lead a coalition of Opposition parties?

In 2004, the BJP was led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. They said there was no alternative to him, Sharad Pawar said.

"Compare Vajpayee's stature and leadership with the current prime minister's stature and leadership, I think, Vajpayee was one of the tallest leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party. I don't think that is the situation even in that party today," Pawar said.

Who if not Modi?

Sharad Pawar tried to play down the "Modi versus who" debate for 2019 polls. He said, "Who had thought in 2004 that Manmohan Singh would be the prime minister? There is never a vacuum in politics. Situation throws up a leader."

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram yesterday said that the Congress had not projected party president Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate. Responding to the statement made by senior Congress leader, Sharad Pawar said, "Chidambaram has stated the fact. He has placed on record the position of the Congress party."

"In my discussions with the Congress leadership, it has never occurred that they want to present someone as the candidate and insist on the candidature by thrusting their choice on other parties. But the party wants change.

Sharad Pawar said that he agreed with Chidambaram in clarifying that no leader should be projected as a prime ministerial candidate from the Opposition for 2019 election and that the prime minister should be decided by the coalition partners in post-election scenario.

"I have had talks with Rahul Gandhi also. His thoughts are not much different from what Chidambaram has said," Sharad Pawar said while rejecting the "Modi versus Rahul" style electoral battle for 2019. He said that the existing political situation in the country did not suit for a personality-based electoral contest for Lok Sabha.

Sharad Pawar has retired from electoral political. He did not contest 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He became a member of the Rajya Sabha in April 2014 just on the eve of the last Lok Sabha election.

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