New Delhi: Agriculture minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar said he would retire from parliamentary politics by 2014, but would continue to work for his party.
“I don’t want to come to Parliament again. It’s been 46 years continuously..., but I will continue to work for the party,” Pawar told reporters in New Delhi at a lunch hosted by close associate and fellow minister Praful Patel.
However, Patel said Pawar will come to the Rajya Sabha even if he retires from electoral politics.
A former Maharashtra chief minister, Pawar hasn’t ever lost his seat. Having been elected to the Lok Sabha eight times since he first entered Parliament in March 1985, he had earlier hinted that he would not contest another election to the Lower House.
Pawar founded the NCP in 1999 after he, P.A. Sangma and Tariq Anwar were expelled from the Congress for questioning whether party president Sonia Gandhi should be excluded from high office because of her Italian origins.
Pawar eventually mended his fences with the Congress and his NCP has been in coalition with the party at the Centre and in Maharashtra for almost a decade, although ties have been rocky at times.
The NCP chief was evasive when asked who would succeed him as party head. He said his daughter Supriya Sule, a Lok Sabha member, is interested only in Parliament, and nephew and Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar wants to focus on state politics.
The 73-year-old veteran also ruled out any possibility of the NCP merging with the Congress. “Our party workers want to fight and grow the party independently,” he said.