Opposition parties Congress and Nationalist Congress Party have formed an alliance to contest three bye-elections in Maharashtra. The bye-elections for Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha seats and Palus-Kadegaon Assembly seat will be held on May 28.

NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said his party will contest the Bhandara-Gondiya seat, while the Congress will field its candidates for the remaining two seats. “We have decided to fight together against the communal RSS-BJP forces in Maharashtra,” DNA quoted Malik as saying. “We do not want our vote banks to get divided.” Malik added that the decision was made after a meeting between NCP’s Praful Patel and Congress General Secretary Ashok Gehlot.

The bye-elections were necessitated after the resignation of Nana Patole as the BJP MP from Bhandara-Gondia, and the deaths of BJP MP Chintaman Wanga from Palghar and Congress MLA Patangrao Kadam.

The two parties have also finalised a seat-sharing agreement to contest the six seats in the Legislative Council elections, scheduled for May 21. “In council elections, the Congress and the NCP will fight three seats each,” Malik said. “We are confident of winning both, the bye-polls and the council polls.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena have formed an alliance to contest the Legislative Council seats, The Times of India reported.

The alliance is being seen by political analysts as an experiment ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress and the NCP had entered into an alliance for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections but broke it off ahead of the Assembly elections in Maharashtra later that year, which were won by the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena alliance.