UPA is vulnerable, be prepared for polls: Sharad Pawar

Thane, (Maharashtra), April 13 (IANS) Claiming that general elections were round the corner, union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said Saturday the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre had become vulnerable after the DMK withdrew support.

"The UPA has become vulnerable after the DMK pullout. We have to be prepared for the elections. I have already suggested to UPA chairman Sonia Gandhi to convene a meeting on this issue... She is of a similar view," the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief told mediapersons here.

Referring to the prime ministerial candidate, Sharad Pawar said the UPA has only Congress, NCP and National Conference and that "the bigger party will decide on the prime ministerial candidate and we shall respect that".

The NCP chief's statement comes weeks after Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav asked his party members to be prepared for early polls.

Yadav had claimed in Lucknow that a "confidential report" indicated that the polls would be held around November and the party should be ready for it.

Referring to former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari's claims Friday that a senior UPA leader had sought his (Gadkari's) help to topple the UPA-II, Pawar pointed out that the NCP has only nine MPs and the government could survive if they withdrew support.

He also pulled up his nephew and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, terming his remarks on drought-hit and power deficit areas as "improper" but said that now that he has apologised, he should be forgiven.

"As the party president, I will say that Ajit Pawar's statement was improper and unfortunate," Sharad Pawar said.

"He ought to be a lot more careful of the choice of his words and language when occupying such a responsible public position," he added while giving an earful to his nephew.

However, he said that since Ajit Pawar has tendered a public apology for his comments, the matter must now end. "Now that he (Ajit Pawar) has apologised, he should be forgiven," the NCP chief said.

He also urged the opposition parties to stop disrupting the proceedings in the state assembly over the issue.

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