A day after the BJP inducted Dhangar leader Gopichand Padalkar into its fold, to field him against NCP leader Ajit Pawar from Baramati assembly segment, sources in the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP), one of the BJP’s key allies, said the party may not campaign actively for the candidate. The RSP was keen to contest from Baramati, said sources.
Padalkar had contested the Lok Sabha elections as a candidate of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi. He is considered a strong Dhangar leader
who, according to the BJP, will be able to put up a strong fight against Pawar.
“I have nothing to do with Padalkar. He left our party a few years ago and since then, I have not been in touch with him,” said RSP chief Mahadev Jankar, who is a minister in the Devendra Fadnavis-led state government.
When asked whether RSP will campaign for Padalkar from Baramati, Jankar said, “We are in alliance and we will follow the alliance dharma”.
Jankar was reportedly not consulted by the BJP before inducting Padalkar. The RSP chief’s associates said he will appear at a joint rally but will not openly seek votes for Padalkar. Of the nearly four lakh voters in Baramati assembly seat, 80-85,000 voters belong to the Dhangar community.
NCP MP Vandana Chavan, meanwhile, expressed confidence that Baramati will again be won by the NCP. “… Ajitdada’s vote share will only see a massive rise,” she said.
Even Ajit Pawar had said that he will win the Baramati seat by a margin of 1.25 lakh votes.
In view of Padalkar’s performance in the Sangli Lok Sabha seat, where he had received 4 lakh votes on a VBA ticket, Fadnavis suggested that he should contest from Baramati. Though wary of taking on Ajit Pawar since he is an outsider in Baramati, Padalkar agreed after the CM promised him that the BJP will spare no effort to support him, said a party leader.
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