Mumbai: Republican Party of India (RPI)
leader Ramdas Athawale on Monday met Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray
as a part of efforts to form an alliance with the Sena-BJP
combine against ruling Congress-NCP in the state.
The meeting, held at the Sena chief`s residence
‘Matoshree’ in suburban Bandra, assumes significance as the
high-profile elections to BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation
(BMC) are barely nine months away.
There are concerns in Congress-NCP that the prominent
Dalit leader, who still commands a large share of Dalit votes,
may wean away their traditional vote bank.
Last week, Athawale, who has been disillusioned with
Congress-NCP combine after his defeat in 2009 Lok Sabha polls
from Shirdi constituency, met BJP chief Nitin Gadkari at the
latter`s office here, and proposed a joint opposition front to
take on the ruling combine.
Today`s meeting is being considered to be another
important development in attempts to bring the ‘Shiv Shakti’
(Sena) and ‘Bhim Shakti’ (followers of Dr Ambedkar) together.
Athawale had so far stayed away from the saffron alliance due
to its ‘communal’ tag.
Meanwhile, Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, in an editorial
today, claimed that there was a “new wave of awakening among
Dalits". "The ties between ‘Shiv Shakti and Bhim Shakti` are
ties of blood and nobody can break this bond," it said.