Maharashtra Animal Husbandry Minister Mahadev Jankar, whose Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) is an ally of the ruling BJP, said on Thursday that he would contest the Lok Sabha election either from Baramati or Madha seat in the state on his party symbol.
Jankar said he would make an announcement about the constituency on February 24 when the RSP will hold a mega convention in Mumbai to show the party’s “strength” ahead of the polls.
He said during the event, his party would also reiterate its demand for reservation for the Dhangar (shepherd) and Muslim communities.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will inaugurate the convention, Jankar told reporters here.
RPI(A) chief Ramdas Athawale and Shiv Sangram leader Vinayak Mete, whose parties are allies of the ruling BJP, will also attend the convention, he said.
Jankar said he has demanded six seats – Baramati, Madha, Parbhani, Hingoli, Amravati and North East Mumbai – for the Lok Sabha elections.
“I am aware that my party’s demand for six seats will not be accepted, but I would be happy with Baramati and Madha. We will contest on our own party symbol and remain an ally of the NDA,” he said.
On the issue of reservation for Dhangars, he said, “We had promised that a decision on it will be taken in the first Cabinet meeting of the BJP-led state government. But, we were unaware of the technical and constitutional details. The issue of granting quota to Dhangars under the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category is the jurisdiction of the Centre,” he said.
Jankar said the RSP would also demand the Bharat Ratna for social reformers Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule.
He refused to comment on BJP president Amit Shah’s remark that ‘lotus’ (the saffron party’s symbol) would bloom in Pune’s Baramati constituency, the bastion of NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his family.
He also declined to respond to a question on Pawar’s announcement that NCP workers want him to contest from Madha seat in Solapur district.
“Pawar is a big leader. It is up to him to decide from where to contest…I don’t think NCP will last for long as a party,” he said, without elaborate further.
Jankar also said that the proposed alliance between the NCP and Raj Thackeray-led MNS was “not digestible”.
“The alliance will be among the leaders and not workers,” he said.
NCP leader Ajit Pawar had on Tuesday advocated a tie-up with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) for the Lok Sabha elections.
He had met Thackeray on Wednesday and later told reporters that the decision on alliance with the MNS would be taken by “senior leadership” of the NCP and Congress.
Jankar had unsuccessfully contested against NCP’s Supriya Sule from the Baramati Lok Sabha seat in 2014. Prior to it, he had lost to Sharad Pawar in the constituency.