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Why is MVA so adamant to join hands with VBA ahead of polls? Know relevance of Prakash Ambedkar in Maharashtra

Maharashtra has a total of 48 Lok Sabha seats but the decision on seat-sharing between MVA members is yet to be made. Ambedkar exposed the cracks in the I.N.D.I.A bloc ahead of Lok Sabha elections.

Written By: Shashwat Bhandari @ShashBhandari New Delhi Updated on: March 12, 2024 20:18 IST
Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi chief Prakash Ambedkar with
Image Source : PTI Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi chief Prakash Ambedkar with ex-Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray

Maharashtra: With just weeks left for Lok Sabha elections, the I.N.D.I.A bloc is still undecided on its seat-sharing in the state between Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena, Sharad Pawar's NCP and Congress, who together are also part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance. Maharashtra has a total of 48 Lok Sabha seats.

Amid this, another political party Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi (VBA) led by Prakash Ambedkar, who is the grandson of BR Ambedkar (the architect of the Indian constitution) also aspires to be part of the opposition's I.N.D.I.A bloc but talks are stalled as no consensus has reached between the alliance members.

According to reports, the argument between MVA or I.N.D.I.A members is on some 15 seats while Prakash Ambedkar is not satisfied as his party is being offered very few seats to contest on. 

What is the significance of Prakash Ambedkar in Maharashtra politics 

Prakash Ambedkar has served as a three-time Member of Parliament (MP). He was a member of the 12th and 13th Lok Sabha representing the Akola constituency in Maharashtra. He has also been a Member of the Rajya Sabha.

Prakash has been at the forefront of various social and political movements. He designed the Akola pattern of political organising, which aims to appeal to all excluded masses, including Dalits, Muslims, and other marginalised groups.

His political party is based in the Akola district of Maharashtra, from where the Akola pattern gets its name

He has been involved in mass rallies related to significant cases, such as the Riddles march case, Rohith Vemula suicide case, Ambedkar Bhavan demolition case, Unna Dalit atrocity case, and the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence case.

Putting himself and his party as a voice for marginalised groups, Prakash Javadekars' VBA holds some significant importance and may attract voters from Dalits, Muslims, and other minority communities.

VBA's 2019 Lok Sabha performance

In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Prakash Ambedkar's party contested on 47 seats in Maharashtra but couldn't even a single seat. However, it pulled a vote share of 6.92 per cent and received a total of 37,43,200 votes.

It received more than 20 per cent of votes in Sangli (25.18 per cent) and Akola (24.89 per cent) and more than 10 per cent of votes in Solapur (15.65 per cent), Buldhana (15.40 per cent), Hingoli (15.02 per cent), Nanded (14.71 per cent) and Parbhani (11.97 per cent).

The party also received more than 8 per cent of votes in Hatkanangle (9.84 per cent), Nashik (9.80 per cent), Gadchiroli-Chimur (9.75 per cent) Latur (9.53 per cent), Chandrapur (9.04 per cent), Osmanabad (8.18 per cent), Raver (8.06 per cent) and Yavatmal-Washim (8.02 per cent).

In 2019, VBA chief Prakash Ambedkar received 2,78,848 votes (24.89 per cent) in Akola and 1,70,007 votes (15.65 per cent) in Solapur. He lost both.

VBA 2019 Maharashtra Assembly Election performance 

Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi contested on 234 of the 288 seats in 2019 Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election but failed to win even on a single seat.

According to Election Commission of India (ECI), VBA candidates had got more than 24 lakh votes (4.6 per cent).

However, its candidates came in second place in at least 10 constituencies.

VBA's alliance with AIMIM for 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections 

In March 2019, VBA declared its candidates on 47 out of a total 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra while one seat was contested by alliance partner AIMIM in Aurangabad.

The VBA fielded candidates representing Dhangar, Kunbi, Bhil, Buddhist, Koli, Vadar, Lohar, Varli, Banjara, Muslim, Mali, Kaikadi, Bhoi, Matang, Agri, Shimpi, Lingayat, Golla and Maratha communities. He said that the caste of the candidates had been given because no other political party does so and it was essential to highlight that these people were, in his opinion, kept out of politics by competing parties because of issues relating to caste.

While AIMIM won on the lone seat it contested, VBA failed to secure even a single seat.

Both the parties entered into alliance for Assembly elections also but only till September 6, 2019. However, the alliance couldn't last long as no consensus was reached over seat-sharing for Maharashta Assembly elections. The AIMIM wanted to contest on 100 seats out of a total 288 but Prakash's proposed a mere eight seats for Owaisi's party.

Despite Owaisi's attempt to negotiate, Prakash Ambedkar stood firm, effectively signaling the end of the alliance without explicitly stating it.

MVA should first resolve its internal rifts, Prakash Ambedkar on seat-sharing 

Prakash Ambedkar recently lashed out at the MVA saying they (alliance members) are confused and should first resolve their internal rifts as no decision over seat-sharing has been taken so far.

Sources said that VBA conveyed to MVA leaders that they are not being respected in the alliance and won't contest on a few seats.

Signalling that all is not well in the opposition MVA, Prakash Ambedkar claimed that the alliance members are still engaged in a tug-of-war over at least 10 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.

Rubbishing the statements by MVA constituent Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut’s that the seat-sharing has almost been finalised amicably, Ambedkar accused him of ‘misleading’ the media.

“They have yet to reach an understanding on around 10 seats. Sanjay Raut is giving out wrong information on this issue. Everybody is concerned about the delay… The squabble is between the Congress and SS-UBT,” Ambedkar contended.

Taking umbrage, Raut shot back asking Ambedkar to prove what he was ‘lying’ about, adding that the MVA is in touch directly with Ambedkar on the issue.

The SS-UBT is reportedly firm on contesting 18 seats, while the Congress is eyeing 20 seats, barely leaving room for manoeuvre for the other allies including the Nationalist Congress Party (SP) or VBA.

Prakash Ambedkar calls out Mallikarjun Kharge over delay in seat-sharing

Prakash Ambedkar said that taking into account the time left for elections, the lack of concurrence between Congress and Shive Sena (UBT), and no finalisation of seat-sharing formula in the MVA, he approached Congress Working Committee member Ramesh Chennithala on March 9.

"We had an extensive telephone call. Chennithala shared his concern of Shiv Sena (UBT) being adamant on at least 18 seats. I proposed that VBA and Congress should sit together and have a discussion on all those seats which the Congress has in mind and demanded in the MVA," he said.

"I hope Congress and VBA will soon sit together so that we can forward to topple the BJP-RSS government," Ambedkar added.

ALSO READ | Uddhav Thackeray's close aide MLA Ravindra Waikar joins Shinde-led Shiv Sena ahead of Lok Sabha elections

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