Mumbai: The Congress has joined hands with a Dalit party, Bharatiya Republican Party-Bahujan Mahasangh (BRPBM), ahead of the next month`s civic and zila parishad polls in Maharashtra, leaders of the two parties said on Sunday.
The BRPBM, which broke away from the Republican Party of India in 1999, is led by three-time MP Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, state Congress president Manikrao Thakre and BRPBM president Ambedkar made a joint declaration on the alliance at a press conference.
"The Congress shall have an understanding with the BRPBM for all the 27 zila parishads and 300 panchayat samitis for next month`s (Feb 7) elections," Chavan said.
Thakre said that talks were currently underway with the BRPBM for finalising the alliance for elections to ten municipal corporations scheduled Feb 16.
"We have decided to form this alliance to give `a fitting reply` to communal forces in the state," Ambedkar said.
The new coalition is expected to pose a serious challenge to the opposition Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party-Republican Party of India alliance formed two months ago.
The Ramdas Athawale-led Republican Party of India had broken away from its old ally, the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), to team up with the saffron alliance mid-2011.
The Congress-BRPBM alliance could also challenge the NCP, a partner of the Congress in the state government.