MUMBAI: The NDA faced an embarrassing situation on Thursday after RPI president Ramdas Athawale threatened not to take oath as the Rajya Sabha member till he was made a Cabinet minister at the Centre. The Republican Party of India (RPI), a prominent Dalit party in Maharashtra, is a constituent of the NDA.
“I will not take oath as a Rajya Sabha member till the NDA makes me a minister at the Centre. I am not interested in a Minister of State portfolio. I deserve a Cabinet berth,” he said here.
Athawale was given the RS seat over its national spokesperson Prakash Javadekar after the RPI joined the NDA six months ago. BJP leader Gopinath Munde and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav hackeray had assured him a prominent position, if the NDA came to power at the Centre. Munde was particular about the RPI joining the NDA, as he felt it would help the party to woo Dalit voters. The BJP’s internal assessment has revealed that the RPI’s entry has boosted the NDA’s vote share in the state by four per cent. Athawale, a loyalist Sharad Pawar for three decades, reportedly left the Congress-NCP alliance after it failed to give him a powerful post. State BJP spokesperson Awadhoot Wagh said it was very premature to say anything about portfolio distribution.