NCP president Sharad Pawar said on Saturday that he was "worried" about Union minister Nitin Gadkari as he is being projected as a possible alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a program in Solapur's Sangola on Saturday, Pawar said "Some people in BJP are putting forth Nitin Gadkari's name as the Prime Ministerial candidate. I am happy for him. Gadkari is a good friend. We have been friends since he was at the Legislative assembly with us. But now that his name is coming up for PM, I am getting worried for him," NCP leader Sharad Pawar has said.
Gadkari, a senior BJP leader, was recently in the news when he was seen as taking swipes at Pawar's party's' top leadership after the Assembly poll losses in three states.
The NCP president's remarks came hours after Amit Shah targeted Pawar for the corruption in Maharashtra, and challenged Pawar on his home turf of Baramati. Amit Shah had called for 'Mission Baramati', wherein he directed his booth workers to win Baramati Lok Sabha seat. Baramati is the Pawars' home turf for over three decades, an NCP stronghold.
When asked about Amit Shah's comments, Pawar said there was no ban on dreaming in this country. He also took a jibe at the BJP saying he wondered why the BJP wanted only 45 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats.
Talking about alliances in the state for Lok Sabha polls, Pawar said his party was not engaged in any talks for a tie-up with Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
"Raj Thackeray has a great deal of support from the youth. But we have not had any talks regarding any agreement pertaining to elections with his party," said Pawar.
The veteran leader also chanced upon the opportunity to respond to cabinet minister Chandrakantdada Patil's 'advice' to stay away from fighting the Lok Sabha polls. "I am glad that he is worried for my health. I hope he is equally worried for leaders like Advaniji from his own party. There are older leaders of the BJP who are still in the House," Pawar said.
For the last few days, Gadkari's comments have been construed as advice to PM Modi. His remarks are considered as adverse comments on the current disposition. He is also being talked of as the alternate PM candidate. The Shiv Sena recently added oil to the fire by saying that it will support the BJP if Gadkari is declared the PM candidate. On that background, Pawar's statement assumes greater significance.