BMC polls: RPI(A) chief Athavale stakes claim to 60 seats

Mumbai
5 Jan 2017

Ramdas Athavale-led Republican Party of India (A) would contest forthcoming elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) with BJP on the seat-sharing formula of 60 seats out of total 227. RPI (A) is an alliance partner in the BJP-led Centre and Maharashtra governments. "All the candidates of RPI would contest on the party symbol," Athavale, Union MoS for Social Justice, said today. He was here to conduct interviews of aspirants for BMC polls, which are round the corner. "I am hopeful that BJP and Shiv Sena would join hands before the elections so that we all three can contest jointly. In such scenario, we will be able to win around 200 seats. If Shiv Sena doesn't join hands with BJP, then RPI (A) will join hands with BJP as we have already done in Assembly elections," the dalit leader said. He recalled RPI (A) had won 29 seats in BMC in 1992 as a Congress ally and their candidate had became Mayor of Mumbai. "...This clearly means that RPI has some decisive votes in Mumbai city and our ally is going to benefit out of it. But, we are going to make it clear that our candidates will contest elections on our symbols and not on our ally's symbols. There have been such incidents, where our ally had made our candidate to contest the election on their symbol. We will not tolerate it anymore," Athavale said. Responding to a query on 'inferior' treatment meted out to his party by Sena, the Rajya Sabha MP said, "Uddhav Thackeray should not forget that founder of RPI, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and Uddhav's grandfather Keshav Thackeray were close to each other. Both shared same ideology. Despite this the RPI (A) leaders do not get any invitation for BMC events."  He was reacting to RPI being not invited to attend a function in Sena-ruled civic body, wherein portrait of 'Prabodhankar' Thackeray was unveiled by Uddhav and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently. "When the portrait of Uddhav's grandfather was inaugurated in BMC building, why were we not invited? Even, Uddhav's father Balasaheb had made an appeal of Shiv Shakti and Bhim Shakti and it had worked out well. I would have been glad, if we would have been invited," Athavale added. He said he had so far received around 350 applications from aspirants willing to contest the BMC polls on RPI ticket. "Party's (RPI-A's) plan is to offer tickets to those who have capacity to win. In this case, we may allow someone from outside to contest election on our symbol, but RPI's eligible candidate on all fronts will not be disappointed," he said.  He staked claim on the post of Mayor or Deputy Mayor for his party. "If RPI's contribution in the BMC election is significant, then we will definitely stake claim on the post of Mayor or Deputy Mayor. As I am the only minister of my party after Babasaheb Ambedkar, I would like to see my fellow party workers to become corporators and other posts like mayor and deputy mayor," Athavale said. The dalit leader said the implications of note recall won't have any bearing on outcome of upcoming elections. (PTI)