Union Minister and Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athawale on Sunday said his party was hoping to contest the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls in alliance with the BJP and considering to field actress Rakhi Sawant against Mayawati if the BSP supremo contests. “Mayawati has, for quite some time, been shying away from herself fighting polls, be it for the state Assembly or the Lok Sabha. We would like to see if she is going to change that this time. If she does, we would field Rakhi Sawant who is our women’s wing president, from the very seat the BSP chief chooses for herself,” Athawale told reporters in Allahabad.
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The Union Minister said his party was “an integral part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and hence we would like to fight the upcoming assembly polls in alliance with the party which is our senior coalition partner.”
“But if such an alliance does not materialise, RPI will go ahead and field its candidates in more than 200 out of 403 assembly segments of UP. “We think it is necessary since Dalits of Uttar Pradesh have been feeling shortchanged by the BSP and they are yearning for an alternative”, Athawale, who is the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, said.
Tracing its origins to the Scheduled Castes’ Federation of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the RPI came into being in the late 1950s and wields considerable influence among the Dalits of Maharashtra. However, it has been riven by factionalism leading to formation of several splinter groups.
In the recent past, Athawale has succeeded in bringing together all these splinter groups under the banner of RPI (A) with the exception of the faction led by Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar.