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MUMBAI:28th April:  West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu and former Uttar Pradesh CM Mayawati would be top contenders for the prime minister’s post if the Modi-led NDA fails to secure a clear majority, says NCP president Sharad Pawar.

“Narendra Modi was chief minister of Gujarat before taking over as thePM. In my opinion, since the possibility of the NDA securing a clear majority is remote, Banerjee, Naidu and Mayawati are better options forthe PM’s post,” Pawar said.

Pawar denied reports put out by a TV channel that he had said, in an interview, that the three regional satraps were better PM candidates than Congress president Rahul Gandhi. He said that Rahul had himself made it clear on several occasions that he was not in the race for the PM’s post. “So any debate on that (point) has no relevance,” Pawar said.

A week ago, when Naidu and Pawar were in Mumbai, Naidu had said he was not eyeing the PM’s post and that the primary goal of his party, TDP, was to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls

Earlier during the poll campaign, Pawar had claimed that the BJP’s tally in the Lok Sabha would be drastically reduced “owing to its government’s failure on all fronts.” “I feel that the BJP’s tally will go down by at least 100 seats and that the NDA may not be able to secure a clear majority. We will have to work on new options for the prime minister’s post,” Pawar had said.