Will contest elsewhere if we get funds: Prakash Ambedkar

Says VBA has gained OBC votes that were earlier with BJP

Prakash Ambedkar on Thursday said that if the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) had the funds they would look at contesting in States like Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. The president of the VBA said the party had gained Other Backward Class (OBC) votes, which were traditionally with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The VBA decided to field candidates in all 48 constituencies of Maharashtra after talks with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) failed. Mr. Ambedkar contested from Solapur and Akola in the previous elections. While Akola is his base, the decision to contest from Solapur was taken with the Dhangar community in mind.

The VBA president responded to the allegation that his decision to contest all seats would ultimately help the BJP. “The Dhangars supported the BJP in the previous elections and have supported us this time. We don’t have a responsibility to save the Congress,” he said. NCP chief Sharad Pawar had withdrawn his nomination after he realised he did not have the support of the Dhangars, he said.

Mr. Ambedkar said they had emerged as the principal opposition to the BJP as there was no other choice: “In most constituencies, there has been an increase in voting of around 3% to 4%, and a lot of voters are in favour of the VBA.” The crucial issue in rural areas was the drought, he said. “Balakot, Pulwama and Masood Azhar are not of importance to poor people,” Mr. Ambedkar said.

The VBA was in alliance with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) in the previous elections, with the AIMIM fielding a candidate from the Aurangabad constituency. Mr. Ambedkar said the alliance was working well and had helped them reach out to all sections of society. He also said people from the OBC communities were more comfortable with the AIMIM than the Congress. “New social equations have cropped up and Muslims could well be aligned with the OBCs. The youth among Muslims campaigned for the VBA, while middle-aged and senior people have continued to support the Congress,” he said. The VBA president said the Congress was in no position to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and that the influence of the Nehru-Gandhi family in the party had led to mismanagement.

Mr. Ambedkar had provided the names of the candidates’ communities and castes while announcing the list. Asked if that had helped the party, he said, “I do not say it helped, but in the next elections, everyone will be copying our pattern. We forced the other political parties to change.”

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 9:57:17 AM |

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