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NCP open to form united front of Cong offshoots


Mumbai: NCP President Sharad Pawar today said he was open to idea of forging a united front with parties that were once part of Congress on the lines of the ‘Janata Parivar’ reunion to take on saffron alliance of BJP and Shiv Sena, but not at the cost of his party’s identity.

Pawar, a former Union agriculture minister who headed the panel that drafted the land acquisition bill during the UPA regime also ruled out his party supporting the Narendra Modi government’s land bill in the Rajya Sabha in its present form.

Reacting to questions on the possible re-union of the parties that came out of the Congress at different points of time, he said “if such a proposal comes to bring all parties of progressive ideologies to fight the Sena-BJP, we will give it a serious thought. But it does not mean giving up our own identity.”

The veteran politician, who left the Congress about over a decade back told reporters the Janata experiment would work in Bihar as it is a politically alert state and the change in national politics would start from the assembly polls there.

To a question on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi taking up farmers issues after return from his unexplained sabbatical, Pawar said, “more than where he had disappeared, what is important is that he is back to his work. One has to see how seriously he is taking it up.”

Pawar said the BJP-Shiv Sena government could face instability ahead of the crucial Birhanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections due in 2017.

On the land acquisition bill, he said several crucial clauses in it went against the farmers’ interests.

“I have spoken to leaders of a number of political parties who are opposed to the ordinance. The government may bulldoze it in the Lok Sabha based on its majority in the Lower House. But the picture will be different in the Rajya Sabha. The NCP will vote against the ordinance in the Upper House,” he said.

Pawar, who headed the panel that drafted theĀ  Land Acquisition Bill of 2013, said all suggestions by the then Leaders of Opposition Sushma Swaraj (Lok Sabha) and Arun Jaitley (Rajya Sabha) were incorporated in it.

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