Eyeing Dalit votes in the state, the Congress party has forged a pre-poll alliance with Prakash Ambedkar’s Bharipa (Bharatiya Republican Party) Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) for the zilla parishad and panchayat samiti elections on February 7.
On Sunday, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and Prakash Ambedkar, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s grandson, announced the alliance. The parties could go together for the civic polls in Mumbai and other places too. The announcement to this effect would be made in a day or two, said Chavan. State Congress president Manikrao Thakre also confirmed that talks for finalising the alliance for the elections for ten municipal corporations on February 16 were underway.
Congress has an alliance with an RPI group led by Jogendra Kawade. The alliance with BBM — after a gap of 14 years — is significant, as the other RPI group led by Ramdas Athawale has joined hands with the Shiv Sena-BJP.
From 1999-2004, the BBM was given a share in the Congress-led Democratic Front government. This time, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had offered to ally with the BBM. The plan, however, didn’t work out as Prakash Ambedkar reportedly asked NCP for a nomination to the Rajya Sabha. The development is seen as Congress’s way of snubbing senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar, a day after his party admitted a Congress leader from Hingoli. “We have decided to form this alliance to give a fitting reply to communal forces [Sena-BJP] in the state,” said Ambedkar.
Now, Ambedkar along with the Congress will challenge the NCP in ZP polls, where the Congress-NCP does not have an alliance.