Friday, January 13, 2012

[ZESTCaste] We will offer seats to Dalit leaders: CM

We will offer seats to Dalit leaders: CM
Prafulla Marapakwar, TNN | Jan 13, 2012, 04.13AM IST

MUMBAI: A day after negotiations with the NCP for the crucial BMC
elections were tied up, embattled chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has
drafted a plan to woo Dalit leaders and voters.

"Initially it appeared to be a difficult task, but we pursued the NCP
to contest the BMC polls jointly. Since the Congress policy is to take
all sections of the society with the party, we are now interacting
with senior Dalit leaders. Though there is no commitment, we are sure
they will join us. If they agree, Congress will offer them seats from
its own quota,'' Chavan told TOI in an exclusive interview at his
official residence Varsha on Thursday.

Elaborating on the electoral understanding with the NCP, Chavan said
since all previous attempts to join hands with the NCP, particularly
in the 2002 and 2007 elections, had failed, it was assumed that an
agreement between the two parties may not be reached this time as
well. "I discussed the proposal for an alliance with all MPs and
legislators from Mumbai. When each and every one of them agreed, we
took it up with the NCP. With a common goal to dislodge the saffron
combine from the BMC, we decided to contest the polls jointly,''
Chavan said.

For the Congress, Chavan said gaining control over Mumbai and Thane
municipal corporations was of paramount importance. "All municipal
corporations are equally important for us, but securing BMC and TMC
will have a bigger political significance. We will be able to send a
message across the nation that we have dislodged communal forces."

On the sharing of seats, the CM admitted that there was a dispute, but
was confident of resolving it amicably. "I have been told that there
is a dispute over certain seats. The NCP has asked for exchange of
seats with the Congress. We will look into the matter, but it should
not be a cause of worry.''

Chavan said a joint manifesto and campaign programme have been
proposed for the BMC polls. "We feel that since we are contesting the
polls jointly, there should be a joint manifesto. Similarly, a massive
joint rally will be held to launch the campaign and also on the last
day of campaigning,'' he said.

Though Chavan did not rule out rebellion, he felt that it will not
have any adverse impact on the alliance. "Even if they win, we will
not require their assistance, since we will have big numbers."

The low-profile CM said if one takes a cursory glance at the outcome
of the 2002 and 2007 civic polls, he would conclude that owing to the
division of votes, the BMC was entrusted to the Shiv Sena. "We lost to
the saffron combine in 2002 and 2007 since we contested the polls
independently... We have learnt lessons from the past; we will not
make the same mistake again,'' Chavan said.

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