Ramdas Athawale to stay with NDA, but demands 2 seats for RPI for Lok Sabha polls
Republican Party of India (A) chief and Union social justice minister Ramdas Athawale said he would not quit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), even though he is “upset’’ at being overlooked by the Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP), while finalising seat-sharing for the Lok Sabha polls.
The Dalit leader, however, has demanded the BJP-Sena alliance give them two seats to contest in the general elections — one from Mumbai and the other from the remaining part of Maharashtra.
Athawale held a closed-door meeting with party leaders on Monday in Mumbai. He said he would meet CM Devendra Fadnavis this week. “The BJP and Sena should give a seat each from their quota. We either want North-East Mumbai or South Central Mumbai constituency in Mumbai, and Latur, Solapur or Ramtek from the remaining part of the state,” Athawale told reporters. He said he would contest Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai.
On February 18, the BJP and Sena announced a seat-sharing pact for the Lok Sabha in the state, with BJP to contest 25 and the Sena 23 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats.
Athawale’s demands are unlikely to be accepted easily by the saffron allies.
Of the five seats given as options by Athawale, Sena has two — South Central Mumbai and Ramtek, while BJP has the remaining three — North East Mumbai, Latur and Solapur.
Athawale said, “In the highpower committee meeting, it was decided we would stay on with the NDA as it has done good work in the past five years.”
For the state Assembly elections, Athawale said his party is eyeing 10 to 12 seats. Apart from the seats, the Dalit leader said it is expecting a cabinet berth in the central government if the NDA returns to power, a cabinet berth in Maharashtra and two members in the Upper House of the Maharashtra legislature. When asked if he would break away from the NDA if his demands are not met, Athawale said, “I am confident that my meeting with the chief minister would be fruitful and these demands will be agreed upon… there is no point in going separate ways.”