“I would be happy if Sharad Pawar became the PM. He is my political guru and I entered politics because of him,” Shinde, a policeman-turned-politician and former Maharashtra chief minister, said during an interaction with the editors of the local Marathi news media here.
The senior Congress leader’s comments came ahead of his party’ critical Jan 17 session where speculation is rife that party vice president Rahul Gandhi may be named its prime minister candidate for the 2014 general elections.
Shinde said that everybody has ambitions. “Pawar has been trying (to become PM) since 1992, but he fell victim to Delhi politics.”
He also added that he has merely reiterated what he has repeated on several earlier occasions, including at the national level.
Incidentally, Pawar had split from the Congress in 1999 on the issue of party president Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origins and formed the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Last week, he declared that he would not contest the ensuing Lok Sabha elections but instead settle for a Rajya Sabha seat.
Responding to Shinde’s comments, NCP state spokesperson Nawab Malik, while thanking the Congress leader, made it clear that Pawar was “not in the race” for the PM’s post.
In contrast, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party leader Prakash Jawadekar said that Shinde is not in a position to decide the PM “as the people of the country have already selected Narendra Modi”.
There has been no response from the Congress on Shinde’s comments so far.