Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had proposed "working together", but he rejected the offer. Sharad Pawar, who crafted the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance that came to power in Maharashtra last week, said he had turned down PM Modi's offer, which he claimed included a central cabinet spot for his daughter Supriya Sule, saying it would not be possible for him.
"PM Modi offered that we work together. I told him that our personal relations are very good and they will remain that way but it is not possible for me to work together," Mr Pawar said in an interview to a Marathi TV channel on Monday.
Mr Pawar dismissed reports that the Modi government had offered to make him India's President. "But there was an offer to make Supriya (Sule) a minister in the Modi-led cabinet," he said.
Supriya Sule is a Lok Sabha member from Baramati in Pune district.
Mr Pawar had caused a huge buzz when he met with PM Modi in Delhi last month at the height of political activity and realignments over government formation in Maharashtra.
PM Modi had also praised Mr Pawar's party in parliament during a debate on the 250th session of the Rajya Sabha; he had said some parties, including the BJP, should learn from the NCP on how to adhere to parliamentary norms.
This was not the first time the Prime Minister had expressed admiration for the Maratha politician.
In 2016, when PM Modi visited Vasantdada Sugar Institute in Pune on an invitation from Mr Pawar, he had praised the NCP chief as an example to others in public life.
"I have personal respect for Pawar. I was the Gujarat Chief Minister that time. He helped me walk by holding my finger. I feel proud to pronounce this publicly," PM Modi had said.
Mr Pawar said not swearing in his nephew Ajit Pawar when Uddhav Thackeray took oath as Chief Minister on November 28 was a "conscious decision", prompted by his sudden defection and support to BJP's Devendra Fadnavis, who became Chief Minister only to quit three days later after Ajit Pawar resigned as his deputy.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray took over as Chief Minister over a month after the Maharashtra poll results were declared on October 24.
"When I came to know about Ajit's support (to Fadnavis), the first person I contacted was Thackeray. I told him what happened was not right and gave him confidence that I will crush this (Ajit's rebellion)," Mr Pawar said.
"When all in NCP came to know my support was not there for Ajit's action, those five-10 (MLAs) who were with him, there was pressure on them," he said.