The Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance and the Republican Party of India (RPI), which is in the process of forging an electoral alliance with the saffron combine, will for the first time join forces to organise a protest rally against the state and central governments on Thursday.
At the rally, which will be held at Azad Maidan, the activists will protest against corruption, price rise and dalit atrocities.
“Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, BJP leader Gopinath Munde and RPI chief Ramdas Athawale will be leading the protests. According to the feedback we have got from the local meetings, the turnout will be huge with people coming from all communities and corners of the state," said Neelam Gorhe, Sena spokesperson on Tuesday.
BJP leader Vinod Tawde said a different picture was emerging in terms of this alliance. “This protest rally will be a people's movement against issues that affect them the most. It is also against the government, which is adopting forceful measures to stop Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev, who hold peaceful protests by fasting. Even the rains will not hamper our movement this time,” Tawde said.
Speaking on behalf of the dalit population, Athawale said the Congress had only used the community and not improved their standard of education, social status or livelihood.
“Even the way Baba Ramdev and his followers were chased away at night by the government was uncalled for. The Congress behaved like the Britishers of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. We demand home minister P Chidambaram’s resignation,” Athawale said.
He added that while the Sena and RPI had some differences in the past, this is an opportunity to bury them differences and look ahead.
Athawale also rejected Congress minister Narayan Rane’s offer to join the party, thus thwarting any plans to spoil to alliance.
“Rane is a good friend and I would like to give him a counter offer to join the RPI. After all he had almost lost his ministerial berth and in the next elections — both civic and legislature — our alliance is sure to win. Also, it was Thackeray who made him chief minister, which seems unlikely when he is in the Congress,” Athawale said.