It would be "ideologically difficult" to work with the BJP, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "offer" to collaborate amid the Maharashtra government formation turmoil last month.
In an exclusive interview to NDTV, Sharad Pawar has explained why he was inclined to take the support of the Shiv Sena as opposed to the BJP, though the two parties - and long-time allies -- are similar in their pro-Hindutva ideology.
It is "not possible for us to work" with the BJP, stressed the NCP chief. When it was pointed out that working with the Shiv Sena was perceived as crossing a similar ideological divide, given that it is also a party of Hindutva, Mr Pawar demurred: "For us, it was not that difficult to work with the Sena."
That is because the Sena would not bring Hindutva into governance, he claimed.
"Hindutva is their (Sena's) thinking, they never hide it. But that Hindutva will not come into the process of administration. There is a minimum common programme (agreed upon by) Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena. That is the base for running the government," said the 79-year-old veteran who crafted the virtually inconceivable Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance that came to power in Maharashtra last week.
Mr Pawar said his equations were good with PM Modi and during their discussions at a much-talked about meeting on November 20, the Prime Minister suggested, why not cooperate with each other and work with each other.
"I said ideologically it is difficult. For national interest I will definitely (cooperate). I don't bring politics there. But I have a party. We have an alliance with the Congress so there is no question of breaking that," Mr Pawar said.