Rashtriya Samaj Party (RSP) chief Mahadev Jhankar on Tuesday met NCP president Sharad Pawar, setting off speculation in political circles. RSP is an ally of NDA at the Centre.
Denying that the meeting had political overtones, Jhankar told The Indian Express: “I have met Sharad Pawar. But the meeting was related to revoking sugar factory license of RSP MLA Ratnakar Gutte.”
“Ahead of the sugar crushing season, Gutte’s factory licence was cancelled. It was not renewed. I had first raised the matter with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. He asked me to discuss it with Sharad Pawar, who issued some instructions and matter was resolved,” he added.
Asked if he was planning to defect, Jankar said, “The RSP is very much a part of the NDA. We are not going to leave the NDA…”
He, however, added: “I have issues with the BJP. In the last Assembly elections, it gave us just two seats to contest. On both these seats, at Daund and Jintur, BJP made RSP candidates contest on its own symbol. RSP contested on its symbol only from Gangakhed, from where Gutte won. I had then felt cheated by BJP.”
“But at this moment, there is no reason why I should switch political loyalties from NDA to UPA,” said Jankar.
“We are not working on any new alliances. But we have set the target to win at least 25 to 30 Assembly seats in next polls. And then we can take a call,” he added.
The RSP has a stronghold among the Dhangar (shepherd) community. Its demand for reservation within the Scheduled Tribes category is pending for decades. For BJP, Jankar acts as a medium to wean away Dhangar votes in Pawar’s strongholds.
A senior BJP leader said, “The NCP will try to weaken BJP by creating roadblocks for its allies. By buckling under pressure, some parties will buy peace.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines