Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar has ruled himself out of the prime ministerial race in the event of a fluid political situation after the Lok Sabha polls. The NCP is a key constituent of the UPA government.

“Anyone who takes that responsibility should have a respectable number of seats. We are contesting a limited number of around 30 seats. If you consider the previous success ratio, it is unfair to lead the nation with such a limited number,” he told The Hindu in an exclusive interview.

However, Mr. Pawar said on Sunday he was willing to perform the role of a mediator between the UPA and like-minded regional players to form a stable government. “The major partner in the UPA will have the right to lead. I can definitely perform as a mediator to coordinate with the UPA and other secular parties,” he said.

The NCP chief said he did not foresee either the NDA or the UPA getting an absolute majority. “They will have to take the support of regional parties whose role will be important. Some will never support the NDA. There are some that are not with UPA but could think of it,” he pointed out. He also claimed his party would remain with the UPA even if it could not form the government.

Mr. Pawar refuted reports about a secret meeting between him and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to discuss the possibility of the NCP joining the NDA. When asked about his position on Mr. Modi’s alleged role in the Gujarat riots, Mr. Pawar said, “The courts have already taken a view so one should not keep raising the same issue. However, when one leader projects development only in his own State, it is unfair to others.”

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