NEW DELHI: NCP chief Sharad Pawar has again mooted the idea of a coalition of "like-minded" parties to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the 2019 general elections.
In an interview with The Wire, the veteran politician said the current mood in the country particularly of farmers and middle class and even youth was "against" Prime Minister Modi who has "failed to provide jobs to the youth".
"As of today, Modi has a comfortable position in Parliament, his party is in power in many states. But the situation emerging is there is a big change in the mood of the farming community, the middle class, minorities, even youth.
"The Modi government talks about giving employment, but as (P.) Chidambaram showed in Parliament, there are lakhs of government job vacancies in both Centre and states. Naturally, young people are unhappy with this government, they want a viable alternative and if we succeed to provide and create confidence among this section, then we have a good chance," Pawar said.
Asked if it was possible because similar previous attempts in the recent past had failed, he sounded optimistic but said it was for other parties also to take the initiative and not leave it to the NCP only.
"Something similar happened in 2004. (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee was the most popular Prime Minister at the time, though he was not happy with the way things were going… But who would have believed Manmohan Singh would become Prime Minister? I believe if like-minded forces come together and work, I will not be surprised if we collectively form the government."
He said he was certain yet about the idea but "I can't do it alone, it has to be decided collectively".
Pawar made a similar attempt recently by personally inviting party leaders from the Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI, CPI-M, National Conference, Samajwadi Party to attend the "Save the Constitution" march in Mumbai on January 26.
He later invited party leaders to another meeting at his residence in Delhi where, he said, it was suggested that since Sonia Gandhi was still head of the UPA, she should take the initiative.
Gandhi invited 16-17 parties for a meeting in Delhi and all of them attended. "We discussed the national situation and the failures of the Modi government but there was no definite understanding nor did we come to any conclusion that we should contest the election together."
Asked how did he feel since Modi has threatened to throw every corrupt politician into prison "in a bid to break prospective alliances", Pawar said: "Modi is a vindictive politician. In my many years in public life, I have seen people don't like vindictive politics.
"When Morarjibhai was Prime Minister and he got Indira Gandhi arrested and sent her to prison, it changed the people's mood against his government, even though the Janata Party had a comfortable majority. That one action changed its political destiny."
About accepting Congress President Rahul Gandhi, whom he had once called immature, as a joint Prime Ministerial candidate, Pawar skirted a direct reply and said: "Where's the question of taking names, I have not discussed this with anyone as yet. Unless and until we reach an understanding, then only will a name emerge for leadership."