Pawar says Jayalalithaa, Mamata may not prefer Modi

Regional leaders like Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and her West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee will prefer to go with a Congress-supported government and not with BJP leader Narendra Modi, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar has said.

“They [Ms. Jayalalithaa and Ms. Banerjee] will be more comfortable with a Congress-supported government at the Centre,” Mr. Pawar, 73, told The Hindu on Tuesday.

Scathing criticism

Mr. Pawar, who previously said courts had taken a view and one should not keep raising the issue of Mr. Modi’s alleged involvement in the 2002 anti-Muslim riots, was now scathing in his criticism of the Gujarat Chief Minister.

“A sizable section in the country is opposed to him. The minorities don’t have any comfort level with Mr. Modi,” the NCP leader declared.

“In Gujarat, given our experience of the past few years, we have seen and heard only of Mr. Modi. Do you know the name of any Minister other than Mr. Amit Shah [former minister]?”

Mr. Pawar was of the opinion that a diverse, complex country had to have a team running it. Mr. Modi had sidelined top BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh, he alleged. “Mr. Singh, a successful Foreign Minister, was not even given party ticket.” Asked why he had suddenly hardened his stance on Mr. Modi, the NCP chief said that as Agriculture Minister he had dealt with Chief Ministers from different parties. “It doesn’t matter whether he or she belongs to the BJP or the CPI(M).”

“My opposition to Mr. Modi is on account of his politics,” he said, referring to the post-Godhra riots of 2002.

In a related interview to PTI, Mr. Pawar, who formed the NCP after raising the issue of Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin, said people did not like Mr. Modi’s idea of a “Congress-free” India.