Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may lose “30-40” seats in the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections but the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will remain in power, said Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Saturday. The Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra added that he is ready to be the mediator between the BJP and Patidar leader Hardik Patel to resolve the Patidar reservation issue. Patel is currently on an indefinite fast in demand for reservation for the Patidar community in the field of government jobs and education.
“The BJP’s tally may go down by 30-40 seats but the NDA will return to power,” the Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment said.
Athawale handed out stern warning to the BJP that the Patidar agitation could cost them two to three Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat in the 2019 general elections and the government must come forward to resolve it.
“Since Patidars turned against the ruling party, the BJP lost around 15-20 seats in the last Gujarat elections. If the situation persists, the BJP may lose two-three Lok Sabha seats in 2019,” he told reporters.
“I will try to talk to Hardik over phone to convince him. Only talks can resolve this issue. I am also ready to become a mediator between him and the BJP at the Centre. If he agrees, I will take him to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss this issue,” Athawale said.
“I once told Hardik that he can get the desired results if he remains by the BJP’s side. I told him that he will not get anything by joining hands with the Congress. I think he needs to talk to BJP leaders to resolve this issue,” he added.
When asked about the quota system, Athawale said all communities in the general category like Marathas in Maharashtra, Jats in Haryana, Patidars in Gujarat should be granted reservation by the government.
“Since there is a cap of 50 per cent (on reservations), Parliament needs to first amend the Constitution to allow an additional quota of 25 per cent. We can exclude those who earn over Rs 8 lakh. I even suggested this to the prime minister in a meeting of NDA allies,” he said.