Friday, May 13, 2011

[ZESTCaste] With Athavale's support, saffrons plan to capture Dalit vote bank

With Athavale's support, saffrons plan to capture Dalit vote bank
Radheshyam Jadhav, TNN | May 13, 2011, 12.11am IST

PUNE: With the Athavale faction of the Republican Party of India (RPI)
inching towards an electoral poll pact with BJP-Shiv Sena for civic
general elections in Maharashtra, the saffron alliance hopes to
penetrate into the city's Dalit vote bank dominated by the Congress
and like-minded parties, including the NCP.

As a step towards formal electoral pact with BJP-Sena, RPI leader
Ramdas Athavale on Thursday announced a public rally on June 9 against
the Congress-NCP government. Athawale, Sena executive president Uddhav
Thackeray and senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde made the announcement
at a joint press conference in Mumbai.

"It's a welcome move which will bring strong forces together. In Pune,
both the BJP and Shiv Sena and RPI will get mutual benefits from the
alliance. This alliance will ensure that the NCP-Congress rule in Pune
ends and the new alliance will come to power after February 2012 civic
polls," said Sham Deshpande, leader of Shiv Sena in Pune Municipal
Corporation (PMC).

Supporting the sentiment, BJP's Vikas Mathkari said, "All three
parties have their separate mass base and this mass base is enough to
route out NCP-Congress from Pune politics. This is a positive step
towards the new beginning in the state and city politics."

BJP leaders admit that the party has failed to expand its base to
other communities other than the Brahmins in Pune. "It is fact that we
admit candidly. Efforts are being made at all levels to purge the
Brahminical face of the party and the alliance with Athavale will
provide the BJP a chance to penetrate into the traditional Dalit vote
bank which is manipulated by the Congress. The city BJP is also
putting hard efforts to expand the Maratha vote bank. If the party
succeeds to convert these efforts into votes, the BJP will emerge as
the single largest party in Pune and with the support of Shiv Sena
could easily get the majority number in the PMC," said a senior BJP
ideologue, who requested anonymity.

Shiv Sena, on the other hand, is apprehensive about the exact
political benefit to the party. "We cannot judge the benefit at this
juncture. All these years, the Sena and RPI have literally locked
horns in politics and on street. We will have to wait and watch the
reaction of grassroots workers," said senior Sena leader from Pune.

Ramdas Athavale supporters in Pune are finding it hard to swallow the
fact. "As of now, Athavaleji has announced agitation against the
government. It is the public resentment that has brought all of us
together and the anti-government rally is organised by the opposition
parties," said RPI corporator and Athavale's supporter Siddharth

Meanwhile, NCP and Congress leaders in Pune are worried a lot though
they do not admit it on record. Especially, the Congress which banks
on Dalit vote bank is forced to plan a counter strategy to keep intact
its traditional vote bank. Congress leader in the PMC Aba Bagul
preferred to say that his party was watching the developments closely,
while NCP leaders kept mum on the development.Dalit politics stand to
lose with Athavale's political ploy

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