Key UPA ally Pawar says govt vul­ner­a­ble, ex­pect early polls

NCP chief wants meet­ing with So­nia to dis­cuss plans, Cong to con­sider re­quest

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NEWS - HT Cor­re­spon­dents ht­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

MUM­BAI/ NEW DELHI: The rul­ing United Pro­gres­sive Al­liance (UPA) is “vul­ner­a­ble” af­ter the exit of the DMK and elec­tions are around the cor­ner, one of its key re­main­ing al­lies, Na­tion­al­ist Congress Party ( NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said on Satur­day.

Pawar, a po­lit­i­cal heavy­weight and Union agri­cul­ture min­is­ter, told a press con­fer­ence in Thane that UPA pres­i­dent So­nia Gandhi should call for a meet­ing of coali­tion part­ners at the ear­li­est.

“She too wants to have such a meet­ing,” he said, adding that he did not ex­pect polls to be held im­me­di­ately.

Gen­eral elec­tions are slated for 2014 but the UPA’s grip on power has be­come more ten­u­ous af­ter the exit of south­ern ally DMK over the is­sue of Tamil deaths in Sri Lanka, and it de­pends for its sur­vival on out­side sup­port from the mer­cu­rial Mayawati and Mu­layam Singh.

Mu­layam, whose Sa­ma­jwadi Party has 22 MPs, has asked his par­ty­men to gear up for a midterm poll, but he has a rep­u­ta­tion for brinkman­ship. Pawar's com­ments are sig­nif­i­cant be­cause he is ac­tu­ally part of the government. The NCP has nine law­mak­ers in the Lok Sabha and has an al­liance with Congress in Ma­ha­rash­tra, a po­lit­i­cally key state.

The Congress, how­ever, tried to down­play Pawar’s pre­dic­tions about early elec­tions. “We can only say that as per our as­sess­ment, elec­tions will be held in 2014, as per the sched­ule,” party spokesper­son Rashid Alvi told Hin­dus­tan Times. But he added that due weight would be given to Pawar's sug­ges­tion for a meet­ing.

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PRAFUL GANGURDE

Sharad Pawar with CM Prithvi­raj Cha­van in Thane.

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