NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Thursday said those in Congress should accept that the party no longer holds sway from ‘Kashmir to Kanyakumari’ like it once did, and indicated his partner in Maharashtra’s ruling alliance should undertake a reality check. “There was a time when there was Congress from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. But not so anymore. This (reality) should be accepted. The closeness (with other opposition parties) will increase once there is a mentality (within Congress) to accept this (fact),” Pawar said. “When it comes to leadership, my colleagues in the Congress are not in a mind to take a diffrent point of view,” Pawar told told Mumbai Tak, the Marathi digital platform of the India Today group. Pawar was informed that when told about Mamata Banerjee being the face of the united opposition for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Congress people say they have Rahul Gandhi. “All parties, specially colleagues in Congress, are not ready to take a different stance on their leadership,” Pawar quipped.
Asked if this was due to arrogance, Pawar cited an anecdote about “zamindars (landlords) who have lost most of their land and are unable to maintain their ‘haveli’ (mansion). “I had told a story about Uttar Pradesh zamindars who used to have huge land parcels and big ‘havelis’. Due to land ceiling legislation, their lands shrunk. The havelis remain but there is no capability (of the landlords) to maintain and repair them. “Their agricultural income is also not (as much) as earlier. From a few thousand acres, their land has shrunk down to 15 or 20 acres. When the zamindar wakes up in the morning, he looks at the surrounding green fields and says all that land belongs to him. It was his once but doesnt belong to him now,” Pawar said. Asked if Congress could be compared to a Patil (chief) of a barren village, Pawar said he wouldn’t like to make that comparison.