Solapur: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said on Sunday that the Congress will come to power in Karnataka, which is now being governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Speaking to reporters in pilgrim town Pandharpur, about 350 km from Mumbai, the 82-year-old politician said that in the current situation, the BJP is in power in “five to six” states, while the rest have non-BJP governments.
“As per the information I have received, Congress will come to power in Karnataka. As far as the whole country is concerned, we will start with Kerala. Is the BJP there in Kerala? In Tamil Nadu? I have told you about Karnataka. Is BJP there in Telangana? Andhra? In Maharashtra, just because of Eknath Shinde’s smartness, they managed to get the state,” he said.
Assembly polls in Karnataka will be held on May 10 and votes will be counted on May 13.
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Pawar, who recently agreed to stay on as NCP chief after stunned party workers did not accept his decision to step down, said that BJP came to power in Madhya Pradesh after some Congress MLAs were poached when Kamal Nath was the chief minister.
“In Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Bengal, there is no BJP. If you look at the entire map of the country, only five to six states have BJP governments, and in the remaining states, there are non-BJP governments,” he said.
In the present scenario, Pawar said, he won’t be able to predict what will happen in next year’s Lok Sabha elections. Asked about Barsu in coastal Ratnagiri district where a section of villagers are opposing a mega petroleum refinery project, the NCP chief said local residents’ discontent should not be ignored and that their interests be protected.
“It should also be ensured that the project doesn’t adversely affect the agriculture and fishing business of the region,” he said.
Pawar said it is not appropriate to use police force and suggested that the locals should be taken into confidence before going ahead with the project, referring to police action against some protesters at Barsu last month.
To a question about Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), which comprises NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena (UBT), and next year’s Lok Sabha elections, he said the three parties should discuss seat sharing if they think the polls will be held earlier than scheduled.
On Opposition unity at the national level, the veteran politician said it is the wish of everyone. “Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited some states. We all are taking efforts on how to go ahead with the same thought and how to bring about a change in the country through elections. All these efforts have my full backing,” he said.
Asked about NCP state president Jayant Patil’s statement that some people were praying to God that his resignation be accepted by the party’s high-level committee, Pawar quipped, “Who else other than people from BJP can do it.”
Sharad Pawar on Friday withdrew his decision to step down as NCP president after mounting pressure from shocked party leaders and workers, three days after his announcement that had also put a question mark on opposition unity efforts ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The U-turn by the 82-year-old Maratha strongman known for his deft political manoeuvring also came after what he said that leaders from various political parties across Maharashtra and the country requested him to continue as the party president.
Meanwhile, senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar asserted in Pune that MVA will remain intact and necessary efforts are being taken.