Republican Party of India (RPI) leader Ramdas Athawale has openly expressed his displeasure over the Shiv Sena, the party's alliance partner, for not giving them a Rajya Sabha seat or even acknowledging their presence while choosing candidates to lead the city's civic committees.
If RPI party insiders are to be believed, then this might be the beginning of strained relations leading to their exit from the Shiv Sena- Bharatiya Janata Party-RPI alliance that was formed before the Mumbai civic polls 2012.
"There is no hiding that I am unhappy that the Sena did not consider my candidature for the Rajya Sabha. It is their moral responsibility to give us one seat considering that we helped them win the elections," said Athawale who boycotted the 'Vijayotsav' a program organised by the Shiv Sena on Saturday to celebrate their success in the elections.
Earlier, there was talk that Athawale would be offered the seat. However, the Sena nominated its senior leader Anil Desai, considered close to Uddhav Thackeray, to the Rajya Sabha. The seat was vacated by former chief minister Manohar Joshi, who was denied a second term because the party lost all its civic seats in his Dadar bastion.
The RPI also refused the Sena's offer to nominate 16 of its members to the various ward committees across the city.
A popular opinion among Dalit leaders from the RPI is that the Sena votes did not transfer to them even though RPI's votes went to Sena candidates.
In the recently-held civic elections, of the 29 seats contested by the RPI, it won just one seat in Dharavi.
"The Sena came back to power in the civic body because of the alliance. They could have reciprocated by nominating our chief to the Rajya Sabha," said Avinash Mahatekar, national general secretary, RPI.
The next course of action said RPI sources will be to try and have dialogue with Sena chief Bal Thackeray, who was the brain behind the alliance, or else they will fight the next elections scheduled in April on their own.