If Opposition comes up with credible alternative in 2024, people may consider it: Sharad Pawar
If the Opposition doesn't move wisely, it can't expect people to think of a different choice on their own, he said.
AURANGABAD: If the Opposition comes up with a "credible" alternative ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, people may consider it, said NCP president Sharad Pawar on Tuesday, stressing that the decision on the new Parliament building could have been taken through dialogue with political parties.
The senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader was speaking in a 'Sauhard Baithak' (meeting to foster amity) at Mahatma Gandhi Mission University in Maharashtra's Aurangabad.
Speaking about next year's general elections, he said, "My concern is if people will have the same approach for the (2024) Lok Sabha elections as they have for states (assembly polls). If the Opposition unites and offers a credible alternative, people may consider it."
If the Opposition doesn't move wisely, it can't expect people to think of a different choice on their own, he said. Many opposition parties, including the Congress and JD(U), are trying to forge unity ahead of next year's Lok Sabha polls.
If rulers accept the policy of peacefulness and dialogue, one can come up with a solution for any issue, he said. "Today, the situation (in the country) is really worrying," said Pawar.
He cited the example of developments over the Babri Masjid issue when Chandra Shekhar was the prime minister. "The then PM called Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and me to find a way out over the Babri issue through dialogue. While both (Hindu and Muslim sides) wanted to resolve it through talks, the government collapsed," he said.
Earlier, Pawar said, they faced challenges while changing the name of the Aurangabad-based Marathwada University to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University. It was first opposed and the government revoked the decision, he said. "But later we reached out to students in several colleagues and implemented that decision because we had a dialogue (with them)," Pawar said.
The NCP leader said rulers and administrators should work with the thinking that "everyone is ours" and deliver the message effectively. "Else, wrong things will happen. In the recent period, such things are happening in many places," Pawar said.
He also expressed concerns over attacks on Muslims and Christians. "The picture in the country today makes me worry about Muslims and Christians. In many states, churches are being attacked. Christians are peaceful and they never take an extreme stand," he said.
"If someone decides to embrace a different religion, it is a personal call. But some people attack their entire community. Mistakes can be made by both Muslims as well as Hindus. In our country the number of Muslims who are backward cannot be neglected," Pawar said.
"A section can't be ignored if society has to be taken on the path of development. Though the common public thinks positively about Muslims, some people focus on how to grow bitterness and hatred. This is a big challenge for our country," he said.
The senior NCP leader rued that there has been a general decline in engaging in dialogue for parliamentary activities. Earlier too, he said, political parties had differences but they tried to resolve them through dialogue.
"I didn't understand why there was a need for a new Parliament building. The decision about it could have been taken through dialogue (with political parties). But I learnt about the new building through newspapers," he said.
As many as 20 Opposition parties stayed away from the inauguration of the new Parliament building which was done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28.
The Congress accused the PM of treating the inauguration like a "coronation."
Without naming anyone, Pawar said, "Key persons from the government do not regularly attend Parliament sessions. If the head of the government comes to Parliament someday, that day feels different. Parliament is above all. If importance is not given to it, people's perception (of it) also gets impacted."
Calling himself the leader of a "small" political party in Parliament, Pawar said, "We (opposition) demanded to invite the President for the inaugural ceremony of the new Parliament building. There was no need to oppose it (by ruling BJP). A photograph clicked after the first session of Parliament had many leaders of the country, including Dr B R Ambedkar and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru," Pawar said.
The Opposition parties boycotted the event accusing the BJP-led Centre of sidelining President Droupadi Murmu. They insisted that the inauguration be done by President Murmu as she is the constitutional head of the country.
Pawar also alleged that elected leaders didn't get the chance to enter the new building first.
He said, "The first photo of the new Parliament building that came out was not with the elected members but with people who were wearing saffron clothes."