Mumbai: The Congress in Maharashtra secured a further advantage with Dalit party, the Panther Republican Party (PRPI), Monday coming out in its support for the ensuing Lok Sabha election.
PRPI president Gangadhar Gade, who is a former state minister, and vice president Ajit Mane were accompanied by top state and district office-bearers at their meeting with state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre, and Mumbai party chief J.Chandurkar when they extended support to the ruling party.
Details of the arrangement with the new party joining the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance have not been declared so far.
On March 19, the Congress-NCP had got a major boost with three Dalit parties joining the ruling alliance in the state.
The Peoples’ Republican Party (PRP) led by Dalit leader Jogendra Kawade, a former MP from Chimur, the Bahujan Republican Ekta Manch (BREM) led by Sulekha Kumbhare, also a former minister, and the Republican Party of India-Democratic led by K.T. Kamble had joined the alliance.
Kawade, who was also a member of the legislative council, had quit in protest against the September 2006 massacre of four members of a poor Dalit family in Khairlanji in Bhandara district.
Among the other important Dalit parties, the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh headed by Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of B.R. Ambedkar, has not supported the Congress-NCP alliance, while Republican Party of India-A headed by Ramdas Athawale is a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance.
The PRP, BREM, RPI-D and the latest entrant, PRPI are expected to be rewarded with a few seats in the Maharashtra assembly elections scheduled for later this year.