Free Press Journal

Shiv Sena does not pose danger to secularism: NCP


Mumbai: The NCP today made a clear attempt to woo the Shiv Sena as it said the party “does not pose a danger to secularism” and hinted that the BJP’s sulking ally could be a part of the opposition coalition for the 2019 polls.

NCP general secretary D P Tripathi, while addressing a press conference here, talked about the efforts to build a non-BJP coalition to take on the BJP in next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

On who would be the face of the opposition coalition, he said there was no need to project anyone before the polls.

“People will choose the leader in the polls. The opposition’s unity will be issue-based. There is no need to project a face as the leader of the non-BJP alliance before the polls,” the NCP leader said.

He, however, said the opposition should put up a common candidate against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi in the next Lok Sabha polls.

Asked whether the Shiv Sena can be a part of a coalition against the BJP, Tripathi said, “Politics is pregnant with possibilities. There is a difference between the BJP and the Shiv Sena. Shiv Sena is Maharashtra-specific and does not pose a danger to the secularism in the country.” The Shiv Sena, which is a part of the BJP-led Maharashtra government, has been upset with its ally and has declared that it will contest the next Lok Sabha elections alone.

When asked if NCP chief Sharad Pawar will lead the coalition against the BJP and be the Prime Ministerial candidate, Tripathi said, “We (NCP) don’t have the strength in Parliament to make any tall claims.”

On the coming Assembly polls in Karnataka, the NCP leader said it will be “very decisive” and “If the BJP loses, it will be certain that the Modi government will be defeated in 2019.”

He said the NCP has decided not to contest the Karnataka polls and unconditionally support the Congress to defeat the BJP. “Last time, we had contested six seats and supported three independents,” he said.

Tripathi said the non-BJP alliances will have to be stitched speedily in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra as the BJP is in power in these states and is on a stronger footing than elsewhere.

In West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, a majority of the population is firmly behind the respective elected leaders (chief ministers), he said.

While Tamil Nadu has a lot of contenders in the fray, Karnataka is a three-cornered race with the BJP, JD (S) and Congress vying for dominance, Tripathi said.

In Maharashtra, he said, an alliance with the Congress should be finalised expeditiously.

His party had demanded equal number of seats from the Congress ahead of 2014 Assembly elections, Tripathi claimed.

“We broke up, and the electorate gave us the same result. We got 41 and the Congress got 42 seats. In Lok Sabha we got four and the Congress two seats,” he said.

When asked if the NCP would seek the same 50-50 seat sharing in the next Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, Tripathi said, “It would be inappropriate to announce a formula at this stage.”