January 25, 2017 8:11:09 am
As the BJP continues to blow hot and cold over its possible alliance with the Shiv Sena for the upcoming local body elections, Swabhimani Shetkari leader MP Raju Shetti has indicated that chances are slim of him going with the BJP for Panchayat Samiti and Zilla Parishad polls as well.
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Speaking to The Indian Express, Shetti said his party was not adverse to going it alone for the local body polls and chances of having an alliance with the BJP were slim. “Barring Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur, BJP does not seem to want an alliance with us. However, in these areas we are strong on our own and do not require the BJP for an electoral understanding,” he said. The BJP, Shetti added, had wanted his party to act as ‘palanquin bearers’, which was not acceptable to party members.
Relations between the BJP and Shetti have been frosty, although Shetti’s second-in-command Sadabhau Khot is a minister of state in the current cabinet.
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Khot, who was originally entrusted with two portfolios, has been given extra portfolios recently by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Shetti, however, had refused to comment about Khot’s role in the elections or if he has decided to go alone. But Swabhimani Paksha members have expressed their unwillingness to go with the BJP. Speculation is rife about the possible role Khot might take in the days to come.
In the cane belt of Western Maharashtra, Swambhimani Paksha — the political outfit of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana — has a strong presence, with multiple Zilla Parishad members.
The party is also hoping to cash in on cane growers’ sentiments, which are buoyant after good cane payment done by the mills in the region. Also, the rural distress caused by demonetisation is still fresh in their mind and an alliance with the BJP might weaken Swabhimani Paksha’s prospects. “We are in talks with various parties and have asked leaders to form an alliance at the local level, depending on the ground situations,” he said. While an alliance with the NCP seems to be completely ruled out, the party might come to some short of understanding with the Congress in a few regions.
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