Join forces to fight BJP: Pawar

Hints at tie-up with Cong., main Opposition in Gujarat, to avoid division of votes

Updated - March 20, 2017 12:28 am IST

Published - March 20, 2017 12:26 am IST - Ahmedabad

Mission Gujarat: NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel at the inauguration of party's new office in Ahmedabad.

Mission Gujarat: NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel at the inauguration of party's new office in Ahmedabad.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Sunday hinted at an alliance with the Congress ahead of the Assembly polls in Gujarat and stressed that Opposition unity was a must to ensure the BJP’s defeat regionally and nationally.

“We have had an alliance with the Congress in Maharashtra and at the Centre in UPA,” said Mr. Pawar, who was in Ahmedabad to address a party rally. “All parties should come together to fight the BJP.”

In Gujarat, the NCP has two MLAs in the 182-member Assembly and there is a possibility of it joining hands with the main Opposition party, the Congress, to prevent division of votes.

Slamming the State BJP government, Mr. Pawar said the BJP’s more than 15-year rule has resulted in neglect of the agriculture sector and small industries.

“Farmers are distressed and so are small and medium enterprises, which were once the backbone of Gujarat’s industrial base,” he said.

According to him, the BJP government faces a strong anti-incumbency sentiment and also major communities like the Patidars are unhappy with the ruling party.

Before his rally, Mr. Pawar held a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Shankersinh Vaghela, who termed it a “courtesy meeting.”

“The Congress and NCP were friends and that friendship will continue in the future also,” Mr. Vaghela said.

A third force

Lately, the NCP has become active in the State, where Assembly polls are due later this year.

Before Mr. Pawar’s rally, NCP leader Praful Patel had visited the State several times.

On Friday, he told mediapersons in Gandhinagar that the NCP was emerging as a “strong third force in the State.”

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