Maharashtra: Prakash Ambedkar's VBA to back Congress on 7 seats

The Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi chief also accused Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena (UBT) and Sharad Pawar's NCP-SP of sidelining Dalit interests

Prakash Ambedkar (photo: @Prksh_Ambedkar/X)
Prakash Ambedkar (photo: @Prksh_Ambedkar/X)

NH Political Bureau

Amid discontent within the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) — Maharashtra's Opposition coalition — over seat sharing, Prakash Ambedkar, president of the Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi (VBA), declared he would back the Indian National Congress for seven Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Ambedkar criticised Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena (UBT) and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party–Sharadchandra Pawar (NCP-SP) for allegedly sidelining the VBA's interests within the alliance.

In a post on X, Ambedkar on Tuesday, 19 March, expressed his intention to support the INC candidates in seven constituencies. He urged Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge to designate constituencies from its allocation within the MVA.

Emphasising VBA's steadfast stance against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Ambedkar reaffirmed the party's objective to remove what he termed as the "fascist, divisive, undemocratic BJP-RSS government."

Ambedkar's decision to extend full support to the INC across seven seats in Maharashtra purportedly stems from a desire to forge a united front against the BJP–RSS regime.

He requested Kharge to provide a list of seven constituencies from the grand old party's allotment within the MVA where VBA workers could actively support the INC candidates. Leaving room for potential collaboration between Congress and VBA, Ambedkar characterised his proposition as a gesture of goodwill, extending a friendly hand for potential future alliances. 

In Maharashta, the ruling BJP has an alliance with the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena and Ajit Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party. Meanwhile, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray today, 19 March, met Amit Shah in Delhi. It is being said that the NDA alliance may offer two to three seats, including Mumbai South, to Thackeray.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP–Shiv Sena coalition secured an impressive victory, capturing 41 out of the 48 parliamentary seats in Maharashtra. However, since then, significant rifts have emerged within both the parties.

The Shiv Sena, originally co-founded by Bal Thackeray, has undergone a split, with the majority of the party aligning itself with the BJP.

Similarly, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) also experienced internal divisions, notably with Ajit Pawar's decision to join the ruling alliance in the state under the leadership of Eknath Shinde.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP emerged as the dominant force, clinching 23 seats, while the undivided Shiv Sena secured 18 seats. The undivided NCP managed to win four seats, with the Congress securing one seat. Additionally, the AIMIM and an Independent candidate collectively secured the remaining two seats.

As discord simmers within the MVA, Ambedkar's alignment with the Congress adds a new dynamic to Maharashtra's political landscape, hinting at further complexities to emerge in the coalition politics of the state ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

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