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BJP ally meets Raju Shetti, sparks talk of ‘fourth front’

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RSP’s Mahadev Jankar upset at shoddy treatment of smaller parties

Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) chief and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ally Mahadev Jankar met Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti in Pune on Tuesday, setting rumour mills buzzing overtime as the election inches closer.

According to sources, Mr. Jankar, Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries Development in the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet, held an hour-long meeting with Mr. Shetti where the duo reportedly discussed possibilities of forming a ‘fourth front’.

Mr. Jankar, who offered stiff competition to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Supriya Sule from Baramati in 2014, is reportedly disgruntled with the BJP for sidelining smaller constituents like his RSP. Mr. Jankar, a tall leader from the Dhangar community, was elected MLC in 2015 and inducted into the State cabinet the next year.

Mr. Shetti, on his part, has been long frustrated with the slow response from Congress over seat-sharing.

“Both leaders have been disaffected with the shoddy treatment meted out by their respective alliance partners [the BJP in Mr. Jankar’s case and the Congress-NCP in Mr. Shetti’s case] and deliberated on the possibility of opening a ‘fourth front’ consisting of smaller parties. However, nothing concrete has been decided as yet,” said a Swabhimani Paksha leader, speaking to The Hindu on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Shetti, on his part, said it was “a casual meeting”, and added that there was no real discussion about opening up a ‘fourth front’ as Mr. Jankar would have to pull out of the NDA first.

Mr. Shetti also held a meeting of his party’s core committee after which he said he had given the Congress time till March 13 to make up their minds.

In addition to the Hatkanangale Lok Sabha constituency in Kolhapur, Mr. Shetti has demanded the Buldhana and Wardha seats from the Congress-NCP alliance.

“We have already announced our decision to go it alone in the general election if the talks with the Congress fail. We are resolved to contest 15 Lok Sabha seats and will announce our list of candidates by March 13,” Mr. Shetti said.

He said his party was eager to join in a combine to defeat the ruling BJP, but clarified that the Swabhimani Paksha would join in the grand coalition led by the Congress and the NCP only if his party was given its due.

“If the Congress does not respond to our ultimatum, we will have no alternative but to go our own way…our candidates have worked for more than two decades at the grassroots and we feel that we ought to be given the seats we have asked for,” said Mr. Shetti, a two-time MP from the Hatkanangale Lok Sabha constituency.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 5:26:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bjp-ally-meets-raju-shetti-sparks-talk-of-fourth-front/article26515573.ece

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