‘Sharad Pawar himself would not want to become head of the UPA’: P Chidambaram
Congress leader and former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Sunday that the head of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Sharad Pawar, would not want to be declared head of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) of the Opposition, since there is no such thing.
The comment comes at a time when Pawar’s name is hovering around the post of UPA president with Shiv Sena also batting for the veteran leader and pushing for the need for opposition parties to unite nationally. .
While speaking to the ANI news agency, Chidambaram said: “I don’t think even Mr. Sharad Pawar wants to be declared president of UPA. When these parties meet, the natural person who extends the invitation and the natural person who presides over the meeting will be the leader of the majority party; we are not selecting a prime minister. There is no president of the UPA. ”
Chidambaram said that among the UPA allies, Congress has the largest bank force in Parliament.
“The UPA is made up of nine or ten parties, the largest of our alliance being the Congress, with about 95 or 100 members in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha,” he told ANI.
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The former finance minister said that if Congress calls an alliance meeting, “it is natural for a congressional leader to chair the meeting.” “Some of the parties may take the initiative to call the UPA meeting and Congress will attend it, but if Congress is calling a meeting, it is natural that one of their own leaders will chair the meeting,” Chidambaram said.
He also highlighted the importance of UPA and its allies working together to strengthen the alliance at the national level.
There is much speculation that the Opposition parties are in favor of Pawar taking the lead in forming a formidable combination to take on the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) at the national level. Pawar himself had voiced the need for such a combination and lobbied for Congress to take the lead while keeping differences with parties like the Trinamool Congress (TMC) at bay.
Shiv Sena MP and chief spokesman Sanjay Raut said on Saturday that the UPA has weakened and lost its relevance. He had also stated that, in addition to the Acting President of Congress, Sonia Gandhi, Pawar also has the support of a cross-section of people and leaders of other opposition parties. Pawar is the only leader who is taken seriously even by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he had said.
“The time has come to expand the reach of the UPA by inducing more allies. All the opposition parties must unite against the dictatorial attitude of the central government. A weak opposition is bad for democracy ”, he had said.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Congress has expressed dismay at Sena’s criticism of the UPA.
“Our alliance with Sena is limited to Maharashtra and is based on the common minimum program that we had finalized before forming the state government. Sena has no right to comment on the UPA and is not part of the [UPA] alliance so far. All alliance partners have full faith in the leadership of the President of Congress, Sonia Gandhi, who has led the alliance efficiently. Regarding the leadership of the UPA by Sharad Pawar, he too has rejected any such proposal, ”said Maharashtra Public Works Department Minister and former Chief Minister of State Ashok Chavan.