Even though the Republic Party of India's (RPI) Bahujan Mahasangh (BM) has been protesting against the Lavasa project for the past eight years, the party has now joined hands with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for the civic election. 

Lonely planet: (From left) RPI Bahujan Mahasangh leaders Milind 
Ahire, Kiran Kadam and P S Gaikwad. pic/vivek Sabnis

The party has claimed that it will continue its agitation against the project, which reportedly has NCP's backing. Prakash Ambedkar, president of RPI BM, who was in talks with NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, made a formal announcement after meeting Madhukar Pichad, general secretary, NCP, in Mumbai recently. "We are keeping Congress away, as they do not like Dalits. We will be collaborating with the NCP," said Ambedkar.

Kiran Kadam, president, RPI BM, Pune,  said, "The alliance with  NCP is only for the PMC poll. We will continue to protest against Lavasa. The project is not only consuming water meant for the city, but is also destroying the nature in Maval district." 

"So far, we have received around 200 applications. Interviews will be conducted on January 19 and 20 to shortlist candidates," said P S Gaikwad, vice president, RPI BM, Pune. 

RPI factions and their poll dance
The RPI factions are active in the municipal elections in Pune. While RPI's Ramdas Athawale faction has joined hands with the BJP and the Shiv Sena, the Jogendra Kawade faction has decided to go to polls all alone. Kawade will contest 50 seats each in the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation and the Pune Municipal Corporation. Kawade faction had won total 35 seats in civic polls across the state.