ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Forgotten Ideals

The formation of a "united" Republican Party of India has failed to elicit dalit enthusiasm.

The recent coming together of the major factions of the Republican Party of India (RPI) in Maharashtra to form a “united” RPI has been greeted with tired cynicism from many quarters, including the dalit community itself. The failure of the earlier attempts at unity, especially those of 1989, 1995 and 2007, has not been forgotten. If it were only a matter of the political fortunes of the faction leaders in the forthcoming state assembly elections and leveraging of seats from allies, the RPI’s periodic bouts of idealistic talk could be treated as political expediency. However, the RPI’s weakening image within the larger political milieu and its failure as a representative of dalit identity and interests is another matter.

Despite the brave announcements of going it alone – i e, not aligning with either the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party or the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) combines – there are already rumblings of discontent and even press statements from factions who are part of the unified front, but dispirited with the decision to go it alone. The second largest faction (after that led by Ramdas Athavale), the one led by Prakash Ambedkar, has stayed away, along with numerous other groups, claiming that the unity move has been engineered by the NCP’s Sharad Pawar. All this does not bode well for the unified RPI which, Athavale claims, will decide the next chief minister of Maharashtra.

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