Mumbai: Expressing confidence that the UPA will retain power after the Lok Sabha elections, the NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Monday said he was not averse to the idea of cobbling together a government with the Third Front should the centre's ruling alliance fall short of a majority.
"There is no Third Front as on today. These type of situations develop after the elections and then some viable alternative does emerge," Pawar said.
Asked if he saw such an alternative emerging this time also, he said, "Not yet. Let me tell you frankly, as of today, I have not gone to other states. I will be able to go after April 24 (when polling for last phase in Maharashtra ends)."
"That is why, I have not properly assessed (the situation)...I could not get the opportunity to interact with leaders of other parties because of my own responsibility," Pawar told PTI in an interview.
He, however, said a decision on a Third Front will be taken after due consultation with the Congress.
"Definitely. You see, these types of decisions are not taken by any individual, for a national level situation. We will discuss with Congress and take a collective decision. The effort (to form Third Front) should also be collective, if required," the 74-year-old NCP leader, said to be harbouring prime ministerial ambitions since long, said.
To a query if an effort to this effect will be made before the polls, Pawar said, "No, no. There is ample time after polling and before counting. From April 24 to May 16, there is ample time available."
Asked if he had broached the subject with the Congress, Pawar replied in the negative. When prodded if he proposed to, he said, "(it) depends on situation."
"I do believe that we should try to keep an excellent rapport with others also," he said.
Notwithstanding the media hype surrounding the BJP's prime ministerial contender Narendra Modi, Pawar, known to have his ear close to the ground, said numbers would not add up for the NDA and voiced confidence that the UPA will not be short of allies in the event of failing to secure a majority.
"If you have to provide a credible alternative, there has to be the numbers. That number (272 seats) they (BJP) will never reach. I can understand one or two seats here and there but beyond that, I don't think that type of situation will be there," Pawar said.
"I cannot say that Congress or UPA will get a clear cut majority. But we will get a respectable number," Pawar said.
"Also, those who are regional forces, there are very few who will prefer to support Modi. I don't think Mamata Banerjee will associate with BJP. It is true that she was part of NDA but then she was part of UPA also," he said.
Pawar said Mamata was quite happy to work in West Bengal as chief minister and her going with the BJP or the NDA will "disturb sizeable sections" supporting her now.
"It is a sizeable section, almost 20 per cent votes. In that situation, she will never think of supporting NDA," Pawar said.
"She may not be happy in supporting Congress but she will definitely keep away from BJP. In that situation, with some discussion, there is every possibility that she will prefer a Congress-led government," the NCP chief said.
Similarly, Naveen Patnaik or Mulayam Singh Yadav will not support the BJP, he said.
The Telangana Rashtra Samiti president K Chandrasekhar Rao will also not go with the BJP, Pawar said, hinting at potential allies the Congress and the UPA could have in the event of a hung Lok Sabha.
"TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu supported formation of Telangana and he has to suffer, so I think the benefit will go to YSR Congress, which I feel, will prefer to associate with Congress, after the election. Today, he may not take that stand," Pawar said.
"This situation doesn't show that BJP will be able to form a government," he said.