MUMBAI: Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Tuesday said the BJP-led NDA would win the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as it is steered by a “strong captain” like Prime Minister Narendra Modi unlike the opposition parties which have “many captains”.
Athawale also welcomed the decision of the BJP to pull out of the Mehbooba Mufti government in Jammu and Kashmir, saying attempts were being made to disturb peace in the Valley.
Taking a dig at opposition parties that are trying to put up a united front to take on the BJP in upcoming polls, Athawale said, “these parties have many captains whereas the NDA has a strong captain in Narendra Modi. The NDA has a good batsman like me. We will win the 2019 match”.
When asked about the “Saamana” editorial which termed the BJP’s victory in 2014 as a “political accident” that will not repeat in 2019, Athawale said the Shiv Sena and the BJP are friends for the last 30 years and their relationship has seen many ups and downs. “(Sena president) Uddhav Thackeray is known as a thoughtful leader and a true heir of Bal Thackeray. If he wants to continue his father’s political legacy, he will associate himself with the BJP,” said the Minister of State for Social Justice.
He said the Sena would be at loss if it goes against the BJP in elections. He expressed confidence that the Sena and the BJP will remain together for Lok Sabha polls in national interest. “I have spoken to Prime Minister Modi about the Shiv Sena and requested him to address their grievances. BJP chief Amit Shah spent more than an hour with Uddhav Thackeray. I hope the grievances have been addressed,” Athawale said referring to a meeting between Shah and Thackeray at the latter’s residence in Mumbai earlier this month.
The Sena, a long time member of the NDA and a constituent of the NDA governments in Centre and Maharashtra, had announced to go solo in upcoming elections. The Uddhav Thackeray-led party seldom lets go any opportunity to target the BJP and the prime minister through party mouthpiece Saamana. Meanwhile, welcoming the BJP move to quit the Mufti government, Athawale alleged that slogans of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ were raised in the Valley. “Those who want to say ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ should go to Pakistan,” he said.
The BJP on Tuesday quit the Mufti government, saying it has become impossible to continue in power in view of the growing radicalism and terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir.
“As a member of the NDA, I welcome this decision (of the BJP). It has been taken at an appropriate time,” the minister said.