Mumbai: The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is likely to join hands with the Republican Party of India (RPI) in Maharashtra, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This could be a blow to the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party’s plan of forming a grand alliance against the BJP. The two parties met on Saturday and agreed to “explore possibilities for forging an alliance”.

Earlier this month, Mayawati launched a scathing attack on the Congress party and said that she will not form any alliance with Rahul Gandhi under any circumstance.

Prakash Ambedkar’s Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh and Asaddudin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen will tie-up in Maharashtra for the Lok Sabha polls – making it more likely for the BSP and the RPI to join hands as well.

RPI chief Rajendra Gawai said, “We (BSP and RPI) are exploring possibilities of coming together for the Lok Sabha polls. We had initial level talks in which I have proposed to contest in 10 Lok Sabha constituencies. The proposal will be presented before the BSP chief”.

However, Gawai also said that the RPI is keeping its options open and is in talks with both sides - Congress-NCP and BSP.

The BSP-RPI alliance is likely to attract a lot of Dalit votes. The BSP has a sizeable vote bank in all 10 Lok Sabha constituencies in 11 districts of Vidarbha and RPI has a significant presence in Amravati.