New Delhi: The Congress will welcome Union Cabinet Minister and Republican Party of India (RPI) chief Ramdas Athawale if he wants to join hands in Maharashtra for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said on Monday.
Speaking to ANI, Patil, leader of opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly reiterated that the Congress has not held talks with the MNS for a pre-poll alliance. “Ramdas Athawale was in Congress earlier as well and he is welcome in the alliance if he wants. There is no question of talks with MNS. We have had talks with Swabhimani Shetkari Saghtana’s Raju Shetti,” Patil said.
Despite being unhappy over seat-sharing in Maharashtra, Athawale had on Monday said he would stay with Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP)-led NDA alliance but demanded RPI representation at the Centre. Meanwhile, Patil confirmed that the Congress has held talks with the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, the CPM and the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana for an alliance in the state.
“Swabhimani Shetkari Saghtana, CPM and Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi are there (in talks of alliance with Congress and NCP), but Ambedkar has not confirmed. We offered Prakash Ambedkar four seats and he said they will reply. There are talks of leaving eight seats for alliance; there can be one or two seats more. The Congress and NCP have always been flexible for an alliance,” he said.
“We have had talks with Prakash Ambedkar 3-4 times. They have demanded that RSS need to be brought under law foundation. We are ready for that and have requested them to send us a draft.” Earlier this month, the BJP officially announced an alliance with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra ahead of the general elections. The Shiv Sena will fight on 23 seats and BJP on 25 seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra, where 48 seats are at stake. Also, the two parties agreed to contest an equal number of seats in the Assembly polls.