The Republican Party of India (RPI - United) and the Left Democratic Front came together on Monday and announced their intention to contest all 288 Assembly seats in tandem in the forthcoming elections in Maharashtra.

RPI (United) leader Ramdas Athavale told the media that his party would now be part of a new front called the Republican Left Democratic Front (RLDF).Along with the RPI (United), the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP); the Communist Party of India (Marxist); (CPI-M); the Communist Party of India (CPI); the Samajwadi Party; the Janata Dal (Secular); Lok Bharati; the Swabhiman Shetkari Sanghatana led by Raju Shetty who was elected MP from Hatkanangale; Socialist Front; Lok Jan Shakti Party; Rashtriya Samaj Paksh; Samajwadi Jan Parishad; Socialist Front; Lok Bharati; and the Satyashodhak Communist Party are part of the new front.

The various factions of the RPI recently formed a united front in Maharashtra. It also took a decision not to ally with the Congress or the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The only major leader who is not part of this unity is Prakash Ambedkar of the Bharip Bahujan MahaSangh.

Mr. Athavale has been talking of an RPI unity since his defeat in the Shirdi Lok Sabha seat, which he believes was due to the Congress party's dirty politics. He also refused an offer of a Rajya Sabha seat from the Congress ally, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Mr. Athavale said the RLDF was secular and would represent all poor and backward sections.

In Maharashtra, the main focus would be on the development of the Scheduled Castes, Adivasis and farmers. He dispelled fears that he would be swayed by offers from the Congress or the NCP before the polls and said he would resist such moves.

In the past, Mr. Athavale has been an ally of the NCP and in the last Lok Sabha he was supported by the Congress. “I will not change my stand and stay loyal with the Third Front and will not ditch them,” he said.

The Congress and the NCP have headed a government that has led to price rise, load shedding, corruption, and other issues. The RLDF would address these issues and prepare a social and economic development programme for the State, he said. Seat-sharing among the RLDF allies will be decided at a later stage.

It will hold a rally on September 12 at the Shivaji Park to launch its election campaign. In the last Lok Sabha election, the third Front had contested 12 seats.