Sharad Pawar, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and key ally of the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, has said that the Centre's ruling coalition has become vulnerable after DMK's pullout.
"UPA's position has become vulnerable after DMK's pullout. We have to prepare and plan for elections. I have suggested to the UPA chairperson to convene a meeting to discuss this and she is also of the same view," Mr Pawar told reporters today.
Amid conflicting voices on who should be the UPA's candidate for Prime Minister's post, he said the coalition's spearhead Congress would have to take a call.
"Compared to the last time, UPA has shrunk. It is only the Congress, NCP and National Conference... majority party has to take the call. We will respect the majority party's view," he said.
Mr Pawar also said he will not contest Lok Sabha elections.
Mr Pawar's statement comes days after Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav hinted that elections could be held this year. Mr Yadav had even asked his partymen to gear up for a mid-term poll.
The Samajwadi Party, with 22 MPs, has been providing crucial outside support to the government and bailing it out in times of crises.
To a question on former BJP president Nitin Gadkari's claim that a UPA leader approached him for help to topple the Central government, Mr Pawar said, "NCP has only 9 MPs and Central government cannot be toppled with nine MPs pulling out."
The Union Agriculture Minister also rejected the charge that he was against the UPA's ambitious food security bill. "I am of the view that the poor should benefit from food security act. If Planning Commission says 34 per cent of the total population is below poverty line, how can there be 70 per cent beneficiaries. This is the only doubt I have raised," he said.