Central minister Ramdas Athawale, whose RPI faction is part of the ruling NDA, Friday said that the SP-BSP alliance could “cause some damage” and wean away 25-30 seats from the BJP in Uttar Pradesh in the next Lok Sabha elections. He, however, maintained that the BJP would still be able to form a government at the Centre. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP took 71 of the 80 seats in the state while ally Apna Dal won two seats.
Addressing a press conference in Lucknow, Athawale, who is Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment in the Modi government, said it was his belief that the BJP might get 50-plus seats and the SP-BSP 25-30 seats in the next Lok Sabha.
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Since there is always some plus-minus in politics, he said, the BJP will have 25-30 fewer seats in Uttar Pradesh. But the party, he said, would benefit in other states and again form a government at the Centre.
Welcoming UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s decision to address Babasaheb Ambedkar as Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar — Ramji being his father’s name — Athawale, a Dalit leader from Maharashtra, said that in his state it is a tradition to write one’s father’s name before the surname.
Athawale said that including “Ramji” as the middle name had nothing to do with Lord Ram of the Hindu pantheon. And because there was no law against it, there should be no politics on the matter, he said.
He attacked the SP-BSP alliance, saying the SP was “cheating” BSP and had it wanted BSP candidate Bhimrao Ambedkar to win the Rajya Sabha seat from UP, it should have given the first preference vote to the BSP candidate. Athawale invited Mayawati to join hands with the NDA so that Ram Vilas Paswan, Mayawati and he could together speak for the Dalits.
Accepting that atrocities against Dalits were still happening, he said the BJP government was not responsible for it. There were attacks on Dalits in the name of “gau-raksha” but Yogi Adityanath, he said, took cognizance and “solved everything”.