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VBA willing to hold talks with AIMIM: Prakash Ambedkar

A file photo of Prakash Ambedkar.

A file photo of Prakash Ambedkar.  

The Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi chief says, “It is they who have closed the doors and locked them. We are always open for discussions.”

Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) chief Prakash Ambedkar on Monday denied that the VBA had closed its doors for its estranged ally – the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM).

Mr. Ambedkar said that it was the AIMIM that slammed the door for alliance talks. “We [the VBA] have never shut the door for a possible alliance. It is they [AIMIM] who have closed the doors and locked them. The keys of the doors, too, are with them. We are always open for discussions,” Mr. Ambedkar said, expressing his willingness to contest the Assembly polls jointly with the AIMIM.

He further said the VBA would announce its final list of candidates within the next three days and that several Muslim community organisations had lent their support to the VBA for the upcoming elections.

Mr. Ambedkar said he would not contest the Assembly polls and added saying the Party would keep up its strategy of ‘social engineering’ by giving tickets to representatives of all communities and expressed confidence that it would perform well in the polls.

“The VBA had received positive response in a number of regions in Maharashtra. We are willing to take people from all sections of the society. As a result, our strength has grown in several constituencies,” he said.

The Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (Mr. Ambedkar’s original Party name)-AIMIM alliance, forged 11 months ago amid great fanfare, was perceived as a ‘game changer’ in Maharashtra politics and had sought to capture the Dalit-Muslim votes from the Congress-NCP opposition in the State. However, the AIMIM severed ties earlier this month after claiming that it was being offered a paltry eight of the 288 Assembly Seats by Mr. Ambedkar.

This, despite the fact that the lone MP in the recently concluded general election – Imtiaz Jaleel, who won the Aurangabad Lok Sabha Seat – was from the AIMIM.

In a press release issued by Mr. Jaleel on September 6, the Party signalled that it was severing ties with Mr. Ambedkar’s Party as even after “prolonged discussions over two months, both had failed to arrive at a comfortable Seat distribution figure”.

Given that the AIMIM had demanded 100 Seats from the VBA, Mr. Jaleel had dubbed the Mr. Ambedkar’s offer as “simply unacceptable” and “unjustified.”

However, despite the AIMIM's official severing of ties, there have been signs of rapprochement from both Mr. Ambedkar as well as Mr. Jaleel, leading to speculation that both estranged allies may well come together to forge a pre-poll alliance.

The VBA-AIMIM alliance had queered the pitch for the Opposition Congress and the NCP in at least 10 of the 48 Lok Sabha Seats in the recently concluded general election by eating into these Parties’ traditional Dalit-minority vote-bank.

While winning only one Seat (that of Imtiaz Jaleel from Aurangabad), the alliance managed several major upsets in the State by splitting votes that ensured the defeats of Swabhimani Paksha leader Raju Shetti in Hatkanangale (Kolhapur) and senior Congressmen Sushilkumar Shinde in Solapur and Ashok Chavan in Nanded among others.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 5:08:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/maharashtra-assembly/vba-willing-to-hold-talks-with-aimim-prakash-ambedkar/article29491067.ece

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