Congress minister Narayan Rane seems to be trying to sabotage the upcoming alliance between the Shiv Sena and the Ramdas Athawale-led Republican Party of India (RPI) even before it takes off.
Rane has given the Dalit leader an offer to join the Congress, indicating a positive negotiation.
“I have given an open offer to Athawale to join us. I am ready to meet him whenever he wants. He will soon understand that one cannot work with a party that has got a completely different ideology and cannot think on one plane. Also, the Sena is no longer what it used to be,” Rane told Hindustan Times on Monday.
Athawale, who recently announced joining hands with the Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine, is ready to jointly lead a morcha against the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government on June 9 at Azad Maidan.
For Sena, joining hands with Athawale is an advantage considering its traditional voters have already been split by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and dalit votes from the RPI could neutralise the loss.
Athawale, after facing a defeat in Shirdi, alleged that Congress was responsible for his failure. He left the Congress alliance claiming that the RPI never got a fair share in the partnership and nor did the Dalit community benefit in any way.
But this offer may be a hard one to resist for Athawale, Rane indicated.
“His well-wishers are not happy with the alliance considering the history and the equation between the two parties in the past. Athawale might participate in the June-9 rally, but I am sure he will be back with us before the time for civic elections,” said a confident Rane.
Athawale when contacted did not take a stand on the offer. “I will talk on the issue on Tuesday after giving it a thought,” he said.