BENGALURU: Sharad Pawar, the founder of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), on Monday said that his visit to Karnataka is part of his mission to create a consensus among secular political parties in the country and he will make use of his personal relationship with former prime minister HD Deve Gowda to unite in the larger interest of the country. Pawar said he is visiting different states with the same mission.
The 81-year-old leader, speaking after inaugurating the NCP Karnataka office, said, “We have no base in Karnataka and will contest a limited number of seats in the Assembly polls by ensuring that secular votes do not get divided. We follow the same strategy in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.”
Asked who will lead the non-BJP alliance, he said it will be decided after bringing everyone together. “In a month or so we may sit together, discuss and take a stand as the country needs an alternative,” he added.
He refused to predict the outcome of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Asked about election strategist Prashant Kishor giving a presentation to Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi, Pawar said he does not believe in such predictions. The Congress-led UPA came to power in 2004 despite predictions not favouring it, he pointed out.
NCP to take out padayatra
He alleged that the Narendra Modi government is not taking effective steps to check communal unrest in the country, despite several leaders, including him, petitioning the government to take a serious note of the grim situation. “We had never heard of communal unrest during Ram Navami and Hanuma Jayanti celebrations in the past,” he said, referring to Delhi riots. He said that law and order is not a state subject in Delhi and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal could not have controlled the riots. “The Centre should not tolerate such incidents.” On the alleged plans of the Centre to ban Popular Front of India, Pawar said he is not against such action if any organisation is involved in creating social unrest.
New state NCP chief Hari R will lead a 511 km padayatra in north Karnataka which will culminate in Belagavi. Pawar will address a mega rally of over 50,000 people there in May or June. “After getting the feedback, a similar rally will be organised in South Karnataka. A decision will be taken on fielding candidates, including from Bengaluru,” Pawar said.
It is not the first time that NCP has forayed into Karnataka. It had contested from 14 Assembly seats, mostly in northern Karnataka and also Mahalakshmi Layout in Bengaluru, in the 2018 Assembly polls.
Asked about KPCC president DK Shivakumar calling on him, Pawar said it was just a courtesy call.