Sharad Pawar does not rule out support for BJP

Minutes after Shiv Sena announced it was snapping ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the upcoming local body polls, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Thursday hinted that his party might not be averse to support the BJP-led government in the state and at the Centre.

“I am pained to hear that two parties who worked together for many years have decided to fight elections separately,” Pawar said.

When asked what will be NCP’s stand if Sena withdraws its support to the BJP-led government, Pawar said, “Let them first take the decision and come to us for discussion. We will then decide.”

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Polls to ten civic bodies including Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will be held on February 21 while 26 zila prishads and 283 panchayat samities will also go for elections next month. Besides BMC, Pune, Thane and Pimpri-Chinchwad mucicipal corporations will also go to polls.

Read: Sena calls BJP ‘wild bull’, rules out alliance for civic polls in Maharashtra

Political observers see Pawar’s remarks as an indication that his party might join hands with the BJP given that the NCP had supported the Fadnavis government after elections for Maharashtra assembly in 2014 threw fractured mandate.

The NCP had taken a position to support BJP from outside, saying its decision was prompted by the need to prevent the state from going to polls in view of the hung assembly.

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Months later, Sena joined the BJP government prompting NCP to sit in opposition.

Reacting to Pawar’s statement, BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said Pawar’s remarks on discussion could be for Shiv Sena. “In his remarks he has not clarified who should come for discussion. It can be for Shiv Sena too,” Bhandari said.

Read: ‘Rationalist’ Sharad Pawar plays down reports of being a presidential candidate

Pawar’s remarks come a day after his name was announced for India’s second most important civilian award Padma Vibhushan. Observers feel that NCP’s support to the BJP should not come as surprise given the proximity Pawar and Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi share.

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Both Pawar and Modi, have on numerous occasions, displayed bonhomie with prime minister saying that it was NCP chief who gave him early lessons by holding his hand in politics. Pawar too has praised the prime minister in the past saying Modi is committed to the cause of the country.

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Sharad Pawar does not rule out support for BJP