Leaders who were inferior to Sharad Pawar ensured that he did not rise to the top, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said on Saturday. Pawar, a former Congressman who rebelled against the party leadership and formed the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in 1999, is celebrating his 80th birthday.
"Pawar's capabilities and merit became a roadblock in his political journey," Raut said, speaking to reporters in Nashik.
He was asked for a reaction to NCP leader Praful Patel's claim that Pawar was cut out for the prime minister's post, but the "Durbar (court) culture" in Delhi undermined him.
"Less meritorious people feared him and ensured he did not rise to the top," Raut said.
If there had been elections in the Congress then, 80 per cent of votes would have gone to Pawar, he claimed.
"Pawar should have got the opportunity to become prime minister long back. Today he is 80. But he is someone for whom age is no barrier," the Sena leader said.
The NCP is sharing power with the Shiv Sena and Congress in Maharashtra as part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).
Asked about the Congress' future, Raut said political parties cannot be wiped out, and noted that the BJP at one time had only two MPs.
On speculation that Pawar may take over as UPA chairman -- Pawar has denied this -- Raut said if a leader from Maharashtra became the head of the Congress-led alliance, "we would be happy".
Raut also said that MVA leaders favoured contesting elections to municipal corporations and other civic bodies together, as their solidarity paid dividends in the recently held Legislative Council elections in Maharashtra.
On farmer protests against the new agriculture laws on Delhi's borders, Raut said if the Union government were to "move two steps backwards", it would not affect its prestige.
"Bring the laws back to the discussion table in Parliament. Understand why the farmers are asking that the laws be repealed," he said.
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