Ambedkar told reporters that the VBA would contest all the 288 seats in the state, adding that names of candidates as well as alliance partners would be declared before September 26.
The Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), which had queered the pitch for candidates of the Congress and the NCP in the April-May Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra on certain seats, on Monday ruled out alliance with these parties for the assembly elections scheduled next month.
However, VBA leader Prakash Ambedkar has clarified that his party, Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM), was open to a seat-sharing dialogue with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), the estranged ally with which it had contested the Lok Sabha polls.
The talks between the AIMIM and the VBA had hit a roadblock recently over sharing of seats. Ambedkar told reporters that the VBA would contest all the 288 seats in the state, adding that names of candidates as well as alliance partners would be declared before September 26.
His statement came hours after senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar expressed his party’s intent to forge an alliance with the VBA for the October 21 elections. The BBM chief said he had offered 144 seats to the Congress for the next month’s polls but it did not respond to the offer.
“They were calling the VBA the B-team of the BJP. But they (Congress) were dealing with the BJP to get relief from government agencies probing cases,” Ambedkar claimed. He said the VBA enjoyed good relations with the Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM and those trying to create trouble between the two outfits would not succeed.
“We are open to a dialogue with AIMIM for an alliance for Maharashtra polls,” he said. The AIMIM had broken off the alliance talks after the VBA, in an email to Owaisi, offered just eight seats.
In run-up to Lok Sabha polls, the Opposition had tried to court the VBA to prevent division of Dalit and Muslim votes, but didn’t succeed. Meanwhile, speaking on Sunday’s “Howdy Modi” event in Texas in the United States of America, Ambedkar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was trying to show a global audience that all was well in India, “though people here knew better”.
He also hit out at the media for calling him “caste biased” while sparing NCP chief Sharad Pawar and leaders of the BJP, Shiv Sena and Congress of the same charge. He said the VBA, if elected to power, will propose an idea to divert water from dams in the Sahyadri (Western Ghats) to drought-affected regions of Maharashtra. As far as poll preparations are concerned, the Congress and the NCP have each decided to contest 125 seats and leave the rest 38 seats to like-minded parties.