Apparently miffed after the BJP gave Gopichand Padalkar, a Dhangar leader, ticket from Baramati Assembly constituency, ally Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) said they were not consulted before the was decision was taken. In an interview with Manoj More, RSP chief Mahadev Jankar, however, tried to clear the air on the issue, saying the party will back the alliance partner to score over Sharad Pawar’s nephew and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar in the constituency. He also praised Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for “corruption-free governance” in the past five years.
The BJP and the Shiv Sena have finalised their seat-sharing arrangements. What about the smaller allies, like RSP?
Our seat share has been finalised. So far, two seats have been approved, and we expect two more to be finalised any moment.
Which are the two seats that RSP will contest on? Are you satisfied with just 4 seats?
Daund, in Pune district, is one of the seats where RSP will be contesting. We will soon announce the name of three other seats. We had actually demanded 30 seats. Finally, we came down to 15 seats. However, during seat-sharing talks the major partners urged us to take fewer number of seats so that other smaller parties could be accommodated.
Gopichand Padalkar, BJP’s candidate from Baramati seat, was once with RSP. Will you support to him in this election?
Yes. As an alliance partner, we will have to support all alliance candidates.
But will you campaign for him?
I have not been on talking terms with him since he left the party a couple of years back. Neither has he called me. Also, it is the BJP’s decision to field whoever they want from Baramati. Ideally, we would have loved to contest from Baramati where we have built a very strong network. But the BJP wanted to contest on the seat, therefore, we have allowed them to do so.
Is it possible for Padalkar to upset a popular leader like Ajit Pawar in Baramati?
I can’t speak for the BJP candidate. Baramati is a tough terrain, I had given a tough fight to (NCP MP) Supriya Sule in the 2014 election.
Has Dhangar community got justice under CM Devendra Fadnavis?
What the Fadnavis government has done, no other has for the Dhangar community. Welfare projects worth Rs 1,000 crore and 22 schemes have been implemented for the community… Only our demand of inclusion of Dhangar community in ST category remains to be fulfilled. The matter is pending in court and the government has already submitted an affidavit in our favour.
How do you rate Fadnavis’ 5-year tenure?
He provided a clean, stable and growth-oriented govt in last five years. Most importantly, he ensured a corruption-free governance. There were hardly any allegations of wrong-doings against him. He responded quickly to demands raised by different sections of the society, be it farmers or other communities.