I accept defeat gracefully, won't blame EVMs: Sharad Pawar
As trends suggested an impressive victory for the NDA in the Lok Sabha polls, NCP chief Sharad Pawar Thursday 'gracefully' accepted the mandate, and said he would not blame electronic voting machines (EVMs) for the results.
The NCP as well as other opposition parties had repeatedly raised concerns over the possibility of EVM tampering earlier.
Pawar also said the opposition parties expected the BJP to do well in certain states, but did not expect 'such a big victory' for the saffron party across the country.
The BJP has won six seats and was leading in 294 seats across the country. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) appeared set to retain power with around 350 seats.
'Doubts were indeed raised (about EVMs). But I don't want to blame the machines now since the result is out. Once the verdict is out, it has to be accepted gracefully and I am accepting it gracefully,' Pawar told reporters here.
The 'specter of suspicion' indeed prevailed in the minds of people in the run-up to the polls, he said.
Such a suspicion was never raised in past elections including the 1984 one when Congress won around 400 seats under Rajiv Gandhi's leadership, he noted.
The NCP chief also said his party would introspect and work hard to improve its prospects in the Maharashtra Assembly polls, due later this year.
Efforts to stitch a broader platform of opposition parties at the national level did not succeed, he said.
'In the last phase of polling, we saw a 'chamatkar' (miracle) of (prime minister Narendra Modi) sitting in a cave.
It was something we had never seen before. We did not expect such things. We will have to see how much it benefited (the BJP). We don't want to jump to the conclusion,' he said.
Pawar, however, said his party was well placed to win four seats in Maharashtra and likely to bag as many other constituencies where counting was underway.
On his grandnephew Parth Pawar's likely defeat from Maval constituency, he said it was a difficult seat for the party to win.
He also dismissed speculation that he was initially willing to contest the election himself from Madha but later changed his decision.
The picture in Maharashtra would have been different had the Raj Thackeray-led MNS contested the election, Pawar said.
Thackeray did not field candidates in the election but campaigned against the BJP.
Pawar also said that he has not yet assessed how far the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), led by Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, ate into the NCP and Congress' votes.
The VBA had not joined hands with anti-NDA parties in Maharashtra.
In some Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, the NCP was likely to lose by smaller margins compared to 2014 polls, Pawar said.
The party was hopeful of doing well in the Assembly polls, he added.
'We will reach out to people and try to expand the party's base. We will try to give relief to the people in drought-affected areas,' he said.