New Delhi: A day after the opposition got a shot in the arm in the Lok Sabha and assembly by-poll results, senior NCP leader Praful Patel dismissed rumours that his leader Sharad Pawar was making overtures to the Shiv Sena for a possible understanding. "Let me be honest, in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena can never be a part of us. We and the Shiv Sena cannot work together. We have completely different thought processes, ideological differences and style of functioning," Mr Patel told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
- Praful Patel denied reports Sharad Pawar was making overtures to Sena
- Sena and NCP have different thought processes: Praful Patel
- He said BSP, SP tie-up in UP led to complete shift in opposition strategy
Asked if the Congress and the NCP would then cement the tie-up that was seen in the Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha by-poll, which the NCP won, Mr Patel said, "We will have to do something in terms of working together and I think this Gondia Bandara experience is a good beginning because since 2014 assembly elections, we have drifted apart. We have not been fighting together. This experiment again has paved the way for us working closer with Congress."
Mr Patel also had some criticism for the Congress which fielded a candidate in the Palghar Lok Sabha by-poll in Maharashtra, leading to a division in the opposition votes which helped the BJP win. "If they had supported the BVA candidate, probably that candidate would have been the opposition candidate and would have won because he anyways got more than 2 lakh votes. So sometimes in elections you have to be nimble-footed," he said, adding that "In Gujarat, if they had taken us along, probably the result would have been slightly better."
However, the NCP believes things are changing in the Congress. "One can certainly see a change in their attitude and style of working... they took the call about Karnataka immediately and they learnt it the hard way. They lost Goa just by thinking a bit too much, they lost Manipur also the same way... All parties will have to learn to accommodate each other and it was really surprising when Mayawati ji and Akhilesh Yadav joined hands in Uttar Pradesh. I think that heralded a complete shift in strategy of the opposition. Two most unlikely people coming together was something of an eye-opener. The results are also there to see."
The former Union Minister also denied that Sharad Pawar had flirted with the BJP in the past. "I don't think that was ever the case and if that had been the situation we would have done that 4 years ago when we had many an opportunity to join hands with the BJP," he said.