LUCKNOW: Creating a flutter of sorts in the political circles of Lucknow on Friday, Union Social Justice minister Ramdas Athawale claimed that the BJP may fall short by 20-25 seats in its ‘Mission 80’ in UP in 2019 General Election as the Modi wave was not as prominent as it was in 2014. However, he added that NDA would return to power at Centre despite anti-BJP forces joining hands in different parts of the country.
Acknowledging the impact of prospective SP-BSP alliance in the state, the chief of Republican Party of India (RPI), an NDA ally, felt that the saffron juggernaut might stop at somewhere around 50 seats in country’s most populous state which sends 80 members to Lok Sabha. In 2014, BJP and allies had romped home with 73 0f 80 seats in UP.
“In previous LS elections, PM Modi’s popularity was at its peak and the anti-BJP forces were divided. This time, SP-BSP alliance may snatch some of the Dalit and Backward dominated seats,” said Athawale who was in the state capital to review the progress of Central schemes related to Dalit welfare.
However, the state BJP leaders rejected Athawale’s observation claiming that there would be no such impact of any alliance on party’s performance in 2019 and it would improve its previous tally.
“We will win all 80 seats with 50 per cent vote share in 2019 as the welfare schemes of PM Modi and policies of UP CM Yogi Adityanath are going to benefit all sections, including the Dalits and backwards,” said BJP spokesman Dr Chandrmohan adding that the charisma of PM Modi was intact and NDA would emerge victorious again.
The RPI chief even sent a word of caution to BSP supremo Mayawati claiming that Samajwadis would ditch her after the Lok Sabha election. Athawale advised her to join NDA in the larger interest of Dalits and backwards.
“In that case, me, Ram Vilas Paswan and BSP chief Mayawati will together work for the cause of country’s deprived and downtrodden sections,” he maintained.
Athawale sought to trash the opposition accusation that the BJP was trying to do away with reservation benefits meant for Dalits and OBCs. “The opposition is spreading rumours that the BJP trying to change the Constitution and do away with the reservation benefits to Dalits and OBCs," he said, adding that the Centre, on the contrary, was pushing for an OBC commission on the lines of the SC/ST Commission with constitutional rights.
He also appreciated Yogi Adityanath government for envisaging quota within quota for mahadalits (most backward among Dalits) and Most Backward Castes (MBCs).
The Union Minister also welcomed the move of adding ‘Ramji’ as the middle name to BR Ambedkar, Athawale said that it was a practice in Maharashtra to add the name of father.
He appreciated the idea of state governor Ram Naik who initiated the move. “It does not signify any association with Lord Ram, as is being spread by opposition,’’ he said.