Sharad Pawar, Intelligence failure, Maharashtra crisis, Shiv Sena, rebel MLAs, Eknath Shinde
After this prolonged political career, one must think about stopping somewhere. One must not be greedy, said Pawar. File photo

‘Not at all interested’: Pawar says he won’t lead anti-BJP front

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Sharad Pawar has put to rest speculation that he wants to lead an anti-BJP front in the country.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president said on Sunday he did not want to become the chairperson of the opposition United Progressive Alliance, but added that he was ready to “co-operate, support and strengthen” any bloc if an attempt was made to provide an alternative to the BJP.

He also said that the Congress could not be excluded from initiatives aimed at forming an anti-BJP front.

The statement came days after the NCP’s youth wing adopted a resolution proposing his name for the post of UPA chairperson.

“I am not going to take up any responsibility to lead any front comprising various parties against the BJP,” the former Union minister said at Kolhapur. “I am not at all interested in that position. I am not going to get into that. I will not take up that responsibility.”

Pawar said even though the Congress was not in power, the party had a pan-India presence.

“You will find Congress workers in every village, district and state in the country. The reality is that the Congress, which has a wide presence, must be taken on board while providing an alternative [to the BJP],” the NCP chief said.

Taking a dig at the BJP-led central government, Pawar said that allegations were raised that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) was being used for extorting money. “Before and after raids, there are talks about settlements [with ED officials]. If this is true and the government is not reining in the agency, then the Centre should answer if anyone asks whether they are involved in corruption,” Pawar added.

He also said inflation was a major concern. “I am not saying that fuel prices were not hiked in the past, but now they are being increased every day. This is a major issue but the government is looking the other way,” Pawar said.

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