Republican Party of India president Ramdas Athavale and BJP (Member of Parliament) Subash Bhamare from Maharashtra are set to become ministers in the Narendra Modi government in Delhi.
The Union cabinet expansion will take place on Tuesday. Both will be given minister of state rank. While Athavale is a Dalit, Bhamare is a Maratha. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis pursued the names of Athavale and Bhamare, keeping in mind multiple socio-political factors that would help the BJP both in the Centre and the state.
Through this, Fadnavis has also sent a messages both in-house and to rivals outside. The foremost message is that the Congress-NCP exploited Athavale for Dalit votes for over three decades but never made him minister at the centre.
BJP in less than two years rewarded Athavale with a Rajya Sabha membership and also made him a minister..
Athavale said, “I am grateful to Modiji and Fadnavis who considered me for ministerial post. The Congress-NCP always made promises but never kept them.”
Athavale (57) will be crucial for the BJP in the early 2017 BMC elections in Mumbai. Athavale, with a sizeable Dalit following in Maharashtra, will also be deployed for election campaign in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
Bhamare is a professional medical doctor and hails from Dhule in North Maharashra. After the resignation of senior BJP minister Eknath Khadse, following a series of corruption charges, BJP wanted to strengthen its political base by giving more representation to candidates from the region either at the Centre or the state.
What worked to Bhamare’s advantage is his image of a “good doctor” who gives free treatment to the poor and needy.
The record medical camps for poor patients has earned him goodwill amongst the central leadership of the BJP.
Highly placed sources in the BJP revealed, “Athavale’s selection will bring goodwill amongst the large sections of Dalits.”
In Maharashtra, Dalits constitute 10.8 per cent votes. In Mumbai, Dalit population is 16 per cent which the party feels will work to its advantage in the 227 wards in BMC elections.
There are at least 60 BMC wards in Mumbai with a Dalit population ranging from 10,000 to over a lakh.
Athavale is expected to help in vote transformation of Dalits in favour of BJP candidates in the BMC polls.
Athavale joined the BJP ahead of the 2014 assembly and Lok Sabha elections. He parted from Congress-NCP in 2011.
Athavale was upset as he feels Congress engineered his defeat in 2009 Lok Sabha polls from Shirdi.