2019 will be Pawar's year, he could be PM: Patel
NCP leader Praful Patel on Monday said party chief Sharad Pawar could be the Prime Minister after the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Patel also said the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was willing to forge an alliance with the Congress for the Gujarat Assembly election and even beyond.
"2019 will be the year of NCP and Sharad Pawar. Given the current changing political situation, his (Pawar's) cherished desire may be fulfilled. He could become the PM," Patel said to huge applause while addressing the party's two-day session to plan for the next Lok Sabha election.
The former union Minister said Pawar had the capability to lead the country.
"Pawar's is an influential name in politics and his views command respect... Even the PM listens to him in Parliament," Patel said.
Patel rued how attempts were now being made to "defame" the NCP and added that Pawar takes a mild view of such elements. He urged Pawar to give up his soft stance and become "more aggressive".
Pawar, now 76, broke away from the Congress to launch the NCP in 1999.
NCP state spokesperson Nawab Malik said in the emerging political landscape, a situation akin to 1996-97 was developing when many small parties joined hands and then Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Deve Gowda became the Prime Minister.
On the Gujarat elections, Patel said the NCP was ready to shake hands with the Congress.
"It will be damaging to both parties (Congress, NCP) if they contest separately. We may have our differences with the Congress but there is no (ideological) conflict between the NCP and Congress," said Patel.
He attacked the BJP on various counts, and on how the mood had swayed against the Modi government in the past few months following demonetization, damage to small businesses due to GST and how the government had failed on its commitments including to farmers.
Patel revealed that in 1999, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had urged Pawar to join the NDA government at the Centre and in Maharashtra.
"However, Pawar did not compromise with his principles and politely declined the offer. If he had taken up the offer, he would have been the No 2 man in the NDA government then," Patel said.
He underlined the ideological differences between the NCP and BJP despite recent speculation that the two parties might come together.
Patel warned NCP activists against getting misled by rumours that the NCP would 'replace' the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra politics.
Referring to the reported close ties between Pawar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said: "It is Modi who keeps saying Pawar guided him in politics. Did Pawar ever praise Modi or give him any certificate?" - IANS