Do you think Pawar didn't deserve to be agriculture minister?
I can only say that he couldn't fulfill his responsibilities towards the farmers of this country as well as Maharashtra. He concentrated his entire energy on cricket and the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India; Pawar is the president). This led to neglect of important issues related to welfare of farmers during his tenure.
He was more interested in creating rifts between various parties so that he could retain control on the party.
You look very nervous and disturbed at not getting the ticket.
I was never interested in getting a re-nomination. I am not interested in power. I had my share of ministerships. I had been elected an MLA four times and an MP thrice. The denial of a ticket does not rankle me, but the way in which it was done shows that Pawar only wanted to insult me and my voters.
I wouldn't have raised the revolt even if one of the three party faithfuls, including myself, who had applied for the ticket (the other two were Munna Mahadik and Babasaheb Kupekar) were chosen for this seat. Had he told me that this time we have to shape our party in a new way and taken me into confidence I'd have said nothing at all. But they kept on dragging this issue for a month.
Finally, they have hoisted a political non-entity as their candidate and hurt the sentiments of the people of Kolhapur, even if unintentionally.
Why did you decide to contest as an Independent?
The people of Kolhapur demanded it. They know that nobody else can fulfill their needs and aspirations like I have done since 1998. (He was elected as Kolhapur's Congress MP in 1998, then from the NCP in 1999 and in 2004).
I got more confidence when parties like the CPI, CPI-M, JD-S, PWP and People's Republic Party assured me of their support. Now I have accepted the CPI-M's manifesto and am contesting the election on the plank of development of farmers as well as the people of Kolhapur.
Image: A maverick Mandlik supporter at the rally sporting his election symbol Cup & Saucer
Also see: Maharaj does the hard miles | India Votes 2009