Ending days of speculation, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar has said that party president Sharad Pawar will not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Addressing the media in Mumbai on Saturday, Mr Pawar said, the NCP supremo does not want his name "proposed from any seat."
"Sharad Pawar remains our supreme leader. He is 78 years old now and he feels that he shouldn't contest the Lok Sabha polls. Some party workers in Pune had requested him to contest but he told them clearly that he won't contest and his name should not be proposed from any seat," said Mr Pawar. He has also asked party workers to suggest the name of "any other candidate that they may have in mind," added Mr Pawar.
Speaking about candidates, NCP lawmaker from Thane, Jitendra Ahwad told news agency ANI that the NCP chief is not averse to the candidature of Parth Pawar, son of Ajit Pawar, for the Mawal Lok Sabha seat. "The name will be finalised after discussions with party workers," said Mr Ahwad.
The NCP is holding a two-day meeting with party leaders to discuss candidates for the Lok Sabha elections next year.
The NCP has demanded a 50-50 seat-sharing formula for Maharashtra's 48 Lok Sabha seats in its alliance talks with the Congress. The two parties had entered into an alliance in 2014 when the Congress contested 27 seats while the NCP put up candidates on 21 seats.
Both the Congress and the NCP have already started their election preparations in the state for 2019 separately.
The Maharashtra Congress said on Thursday that the final contours of the proposed alliance of opposition in the state will emerge within a month. The next meeting of the Congress and NCP leaders to discuss seat-sharing will be held on October 12, state Congress chief Ashok Chavan told news agency PTI.