Ramdas Athawale eyes Lok Sabha seat, to contest from Shiv Sena’s turf
Republican Party of India (RPI) chief Ramdas Athawale announced his intention to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha seat from Mumbai South Central constituency. The constituency consists of Anushakti Nagar, Chembur, Dharavi, Sion Koliwada, Wadala and Mahim areas. It is currently represented by Rahul Shewale from the Shiv Sena – RPI’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ally in the Centre.
The Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment announced his plan while addressing party workers on Tuesday. “I will contest the next Lok Sabha election from this seat. The RPI should start preparing for my election,” Athawale said.
He also told RPI workers that he had represented this constituency in 1998, when his party was a part of a coalition consisting of the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal, Peasants and Workers Party and various factions of the Dalit groups.
In case the Shiv Sena changes its current decision and ties up with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the 2019 general elections, it is unlikely that the party would give away this seat. In that case, it may brew trouble in the alliance.
Athawale claimed the seat on the grounds that this constituency has a substantial amount of Dalit population .
The Congress mocked Athawale for this claim.
“Athawale should bear in mind that the Dalits he claims to represent are angry with the BJP and RPI. The government is anti-Dalit and people will teach them a lesson this time,” said Congress leader Eknath Gaikwad who represented the constituency for two terms and plans to contest from the same seat in 2019.
He said he lost in 2014 due to the Narendra Modi wave. “Modi has been exposed and this time, I am sure that I will win,” said Gaikwad.
Despite repeated attempts, Shewale remained unavailable for comment.