Pawar emerges peacemaker as alliance flounders

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and state NCP chief Jayant Patil during the announcement of Lok Sabha candidates, in Mumbai, Friday, March 15, 2019. PTI

NCP supremo Sharad Pawar has emerged as the peacemaker as the anti-Modi alliances in states such as Delhi and West Bengal appeared to have hit roadblocks.

As Delhi Congress held hectic debates over the alliance with arch rival AAP for the Lok Sabha elections, Congress president Rahul Gandhi held a meeting with Pawar on Tuesday to discuss the political situation across the country as well as the alliance in Maharashtra.

Rahul was accompanied by AICC general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge, who also discussed the joint Congress-NCP campaign in Maharashtra.

Pawar is learnt to have nudged Rahul on exploring the possibility of an alliance with Arvind Kejriwal's AAP in the national capital, which sends seven members to the Lok Sabha.

A group of leaders within both the AAP and Congress were keen for an alliance to boot out the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

However, a strong section within the Congress is opposed to any alliance with AAP that had wiped out the grand old party from the national capital in the 2015 Assembly elections.

AAP leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh too had met Pawar on Tuesday and presented to him some proposals for an alliance with the Congress in Delhi. The AAP is also keen on an alliance with Congress in Haryana and Punjab. But, the Congress has ruled out any such possibility.

Senior Congress leaders pointed out that Rahul, on two occasions, had made it clear that Congress will contest all the seven seats in the national capital.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury also met Pawar and is learnt to have discussed the political situation in West Bengal, where the Congress has fielded candidates in Raiganj and Murshidabad.

The two Lok Sabha seats are currently held by the CPM, but the Congress had staked claim to it contending that it had the upper hand in the two seats.

Yechury is also learnt to have flagged the issue of the NCP fielding a candidate for the Dindori Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra, which the CPM was keen on contesting.

On Monday, the Left Front had announced candidates for 38 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal. It did not field candidates in the four seats held by the Congress in the outgoing Lok Sabha.

A senior Congress leader said Pawar was a well-wisher of the party and had worked with the UPA for more than a decade.

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Pawar emerges peacemaker as alliance flounders

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