Dismissing speculations that it was in support of making NCP chief Sharad Pawar the chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the Shiv Sena, however, said it strongly favoured strengthening the UPA to take on the BJP. The speculations arose after Sena mouthpiece Saamana on Saturday published an editorial highlighting the need for strengthening the UPA.
“We have not said Sharad Pawar should be made the UPA chairperson,” Sena’s chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut told The Indian Express on Saturday.
He said nowhere in the editorial does it say that Pawar should be made UPA chairperson. “But the editorial does mention that Pawar is the only leader who is being taken seriously by the BJP as well as by other opposition parties,” he said.
“Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes him seriously. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is set to meet Pawar to take his advice for fighting the BJP in the upcoming Assembly elections in the state. Pawar seems to be the most capable leader at this juncture who has wider acceptability,” said Raut.
“The Congress didn’t even have the required numbers in Lok Sabha to get the opposition leader’s post. In the recently held Bihar elections, Tejashwi Yadav proved his mettle but the Congress performed badly. This truth cannot be hidden. Rahul Gandhi is putting up a good fight, his efforts are praiseworthy. But somewhere, something is lacking…,” he added.
Raut claimed that the UPA has become like an NGO. “The parties in UPA have not taken the farmers’ agitation seriously. The UPA has some parties, but there is confusion over what exactly they are doing,” he said.
The editorial in Saamana stated, “Priyanka Gandhi was arrested on the streets of Delhi…And they are making fun of Rahul Gandhi. Mamata Banerjee is being cornered, Uddhav Thackeray is not being allowed to work. Kamal Nath government was felled by Prime Minister himself… all this is dangerous for democracy. Who is responsible for this ? An almost dead opposition ? This scene has to change. If Congress leadership does not mull over it, then the country will face a difficult time ahead.”
Saying there was a question mark over the leadership of the Congress, the editorial said, “Congress has lost its stalwarts like Motilal Vora and Ahmed Patel. Under these circumstances, who will head the Congress, what is the future of UPA, the confusion remains… For a year now, a party like the Congress, which has a long history, does not have a full-time president. Sonia Gandhi has handled the party well so far, but the party is losing leaders around her.”