The Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday joined hands with the Ramdas Athavale-led Republican Party of India (RPI) to stage agitations against the state government.
After a three-hour meeting, the newly formed alliance announced a rally to Mantralaya on June 9, which would be attended by at least 10 lakh people.
However, the leaders clarified that the current alliance would be restricted to agitations.
Talking to the media, BJP leader Gopinath Munde said the rally, ‘Chale Jao’ (go away), would focus on the non-performance of the state government. “We will attack the government on the issue of corruption, price rise and also atrocities against Dalits,” said Munde.
Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray criticised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for adopting double standards. “Rahul supports the Uttar Pradesh farmers in their agitation while his own government in Maharashtra is suppressing the peaceful Jaitapur agitation,” said Thackeray.
Athavale said Gandhi should come to Maharashtra and undertake a satyagraha for farmers. “If he really wants to prove his commitment, he should agitate against his own government, which is responsible for thousands of farmers committing suicide,” he said.
All three parties put the issue of electoral alliance in the forthcoming civic elections on the back burner. “I am still convincing my cadres about the switch. We have spent more than two decades with the ruling front,” Athavale said.
According to political observers, the rallies are RPI’s attempt to create a favourable atmosphere for the alliance. “The alliance has created a lot of confusion in the RPI cadres, especially on the ideological front. Athavale is trying to convince his people to toe the line through a series of such programmes,” said Prakash Bal, a veteran political commentator.
State Congress spokesperson Anant Gadgil accused Athavale of disowning the Ambedkar thought. “I wonder if the RPI workers will seek refuge in the ideology advocated by followers of (late) Golvalkar Guruji.”