The Telegraph
Thursday , February 28 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pawar seals lips to express grievances with Cong

New Delhi, Feb. 27: Sharad Pawar today hinted he could reveal Congress secrets explosive enough to put the Manmohan Singh government in peril.

“I won’t talk about the Congress as the UPA government has to run successfully. I don’t want a situation that would create doubts and conflicts,” the NCP leader said.

He sent a veiled warning to the Congress not to nurse dreams of going it alone as there was no escape from coalitions over the next 10-15 years.

Pawar was speaking at the release of the Marathi translation of the book 24 Akbar Road, by Rasheed Kidwai, a journalist with The Telegraph.

Pawar explained that he didn’t believe in the politics of untouchability, hinting the presumption that secular parties would not work with the BJP under any circumstances could be fallacious. He chose to clarify that even the socialists who worked with Ram Manohar Lohia had joined the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

Pawar is known for sending confusing signals to keep the Congress leadership on its toes. He has been worried about the strong demand by the Maharashtra Congress to break the alliance with the NCP and feels that the coalition big brother does not give due importance to the allies.

Although Pawar did not refer directly to the future of the Congress, he pointed to the poor health of the party and its compulsions to protect the coalition.

“Any party that gets 160-180 seats will be able to form the government with the help of other parties. The Congress cannot win power on its own till it regains its clout in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. I see this situation not changing over the next 10-15 years. Politicians will have to sort out their differences and learn to work together. Politics of hatred won’t do,” Pawar said.

What would hurt the Congress most is his liberal comparison between the UPA and the NDA. He said there were not many differences between the earlier BJP-led government and the Congress government, except for secularism. He contended that governments had to pursue more or less similar foreign policies, social outlook and economic policies in the coalition era.

The Congress believes the BJP-led NDA government ignored the social sector, agriculture and the poor. It often used the phrase inclusive growth to taunt the BJP’s India Shining card and took pride in welfare schemes that intended to give a new deal to the rural India.

Some Congress leaders are expected to hear in Pawar’s stand an analysis that legitimises the decision of several secular parties to join hands with the BJP. He said Indian democracy would attain stability only if major parties learnt to work with each other.

Pawar largely spoke on the book but raised a subject that will create unease in the Nehru-Gandhi family: the controversy surrounding the Congress presidency of Subhash Chandra Bose.

Pawar said the Nehru family’s contribution to the Congress was enormous but added that the Congress was not limited to the family alone. He recalled how Bose had to relinquish his presidency because Mahatma Gandhi wasn’t comfortable.

Pawar raised this topic in the context of his own ouster from the Congress. He said: “I was removed from the Congress for six years but I chose to remain outside the party even after six years.”

He forcefully argued that the Congress had to pay a heavy price for imposing Emergency and mentioned the disquiet in the party over the activities of Sanjay Gandhi. This could be Pawar’s way of pointing out the perils of dynastic politics.