Congress president Sonia Gandhi urged Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar to contest presidential polls scheduled for July as a united Opposition candidate. However, the 76-year old Maratha leader politely refused the offer. “Pawar Saheb declined the offer and conveyed that he will support any Opposition candidate other than himself,” DNA quoted NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik as saying.
“The NDA ally Shiv Sena had also jumped in, extending support to Pawar’s candidacy. Pawar told his supporters in Solapur that the NCP was a small party so he cannot dream of becoming the president,” said Malik.
But, as per the DNA’s sources in NCP, Pawar was interested in fighting, but he doesn’t see numbers cobbling up in his favor. “If both the ruling and Opposition parties propose his candidature, then he may take up the top Constitutional post.” The stature of Pawar doesn’t demand him to fight the election, the source added.
Just a day before the UP and other state Assembly poll results were to be announced, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi held a meeting with Pawar. Months later, Sonia Gandhi too invited him to talk about the presidential poll and the formation of a national front against the BJP.
Rahul himself sought a meeting with Pawar as he was their first choice to contest polls. As per the Congress sources, he was probably the only top leader with good equations across the political range and capable of winning over NDA partners too.