In a major setback to the Shiv Sena-Republican Party of India (Athawale) alliance, two out of the three sitting RPI(A) corporators defected to the Congress on Monday Ц just months before the civic elections in early 2012. However, the RPI(A) maintains that the corporators had been sacked for indulging in anti-party activities.
Gautam Sable, corporator from Chembur, and Sujata Waghmare from Govandi were welcomed into Congress fold by the state Congress president of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) and other senior leaders, MPs and MLAs. “The RPI has been a secular party claiming to be representing Dalits and the followers of Dr B R Ambedkar. But just for political gains it went ahead to forge ties with another party that had all along opposed Dalit ideology and ideas,” said Sable. “The alliance made our voters angry and left us with no choice but to look for other options,” he added.
The RPI had a total of three corporators in the 227-member house of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). But considering the wafer-thin margin between the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP and opposition Congress, the switch could have future poll implications.
The alliance took shape when during a rally in May senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and RPI leader Ramdas Athavale joined hands to take on both the state and Union governments on various issues. They soon floated the slogan that Shiv Shakti plus Bhim Shakti is akin to Desh Bhakti (Patriotism).