Sena-BJP, Athawales RPI unite

Mumbai: The Shiv Sena-BJP combine in Maharashtra on Thursday forged an alliance with Republican Party of India (RPI) faction leader Ramdas Athawale ahead of the civic polls and announced a public rally on June 9 against the Congress-NCP government.

Athawale, Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde made the announcement at a joint press conference in suburban Bandra.

"Our alliance will fight against the state government on issues like corruption and inflation," Munde said.

The Congress-NCP combine is shedding crocodile tears over the plight of farmers, Uddhav said. "Rahul Gandhi went to Uttar Pradesh to support farmers but the hands of Maharashtra government are stained with the blood of Tabrez, the anti- Jaitapur project activist, killed in police firing," he said.

Athawale has already announced that his party is organising a rally here on May 22 which over one lakh party workers from Mumbai, besides from across the state, are likely to attend.

The recent meeting between BJP President Nitin Gadkari and Athawale, where they mooted the idea of a united opposition front against the ruling Congress-NCP coalition in Maharashtra, had raised eyebrows in state political circles.

Athawale later met Sena chief Bal Thackeray to discuss the proposal of "issue based" unity among the Opposition parties. Dalits comprise a significant 28 per cent of Maharashtra`s electorate.