Sharad Pawar: People have started accepting Rahul Gandhi now
Claiming that the overall atmosphere in poll-bound Gujarat was against the ruling BJP, NCP chief Sharad Pawar today said people had started "accepting" Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi which was reflected in the "huge" crowds at his rallies.
"A lot of fun was being made of Rahul Gandhi by those in power. But today, the reverse is happening. People are accepting him now and huge crowds can be seen at his rallies," Pawar told reporters here.
Gandhi has been spearheading an aggressive campaign in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state Gujarat, where Assembly polls will be held next month. The Congress has been out of power in the state for over two decades.
The veteran politician said the overall atmosphere in Gujarat is against the BJP, but refused to hazard a guess on the poll outcome.
"The overall atmosphere is against the BJP, but money power and government at the Centre can make anything possible. Hence, the political scenario there cannot be predicted before elections," he said.
Pawar said the NCP will contest a limited number of seats in Gujarat for which talks were on with the Congress. "We will team up with anybody who is against the BJP across the country," he said.
Pawar, the wily Maratha politician, said it was not right for the Shiv Sena to attack the BJP-led governments. The Sena is a constituent of the ruling alliances led by the BJP both at the Centre and in Maharashtra.
Pawar had recently revealed that Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and party MP Sanjay Raut met him and "seemed not satisfied with the BJP government".
Responding to a query, Pawar said his advice was "routinely" sought about affairs of the state government, but not always implemented.
Pawar alleged "bogus" cases were being lodged against farmers opposing Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' Samruddhi expressway project.
"Such cases have come up before me. If this continues, the NCP will hit the streets along with farmers," he said. On the protests held by opposition parties on the first anniversary of note ban yesterday, Pawar said people were "destroyed" by the exercise. The Maratha strongman said farmers committed suicide during the tenure of the UPA government, of which is was a part, as well, but such instances were dealt with seriously.
"I myself toured the state with (former Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh and and demanded Rs 70,000 crore loan waiver for farmers. Today the situation is different. Farmers are not getting the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce and are facing extreme difficulties," he said.