Key UPA ally Pawar says govt vulnerable, expect early polls
NCP chief wants meeting with Sonia to discuss plans, Cong to consider request
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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Sharad Pawar with CM Prithviraj Chavan in Thane.