Sharad Pawar, the head of the NCP, said on Thursday that the Congress should accept that it no longer has power from “Kashmir to Kanyakumari” as it once did. He suggested that his coalition partner in Maharashtra’s ruling alliance should undertake a reality check.
“There was a time when there was Congress from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. But not so anymore. This (reality) should be accepted. The closeness (with other opposition parties) will increase once there is a mentality (within Congress) to accept this (fact),” Mr Pawar said.
“When it comes to leadership, my colleagues in the Congress are not in a mind to take a different point of view,” he said.
When told that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would be the face of the united opposition for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Congress leaders say they have Rahul Gandhi, Mr Pawar was amazed. “All parties, especially colleagues in the Congress, are not ready to take a different stance on their leadership,” he said.
When asked if it was because of arrogance, he told the story about “zamindars” (landlords).
“I had told a story about Uttar Pradesh zamindars who used to have huge land parcels and big havelis. Due to land ceiling legislation, their lands shrunk. The havelis remain but there is no capability to maintain and repair them,” he said.
“Their agricultural income is also not (as much) as earlier. From a few thousand acres, their land has shrunk down to 15 or 20 acres. When the zamindar wakes up in the morning, he looks at the surrounding green fields and says all that land belongs to him. It was his once but doesn’t belong to him now.”
When asked if the Congress could be compared to a barren village’s ‘Patil,’ Pawar stated he didn’t want to make that connection.