Signalling the emergence of cracks within the constituents of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, the Nationalist Congress Party led by Sharad Pawar has raised strong objection to Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) chief Prakash Ambedkar’s remarks, suggesting that the former Union minister was “siding with the BJP”. On Monday, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and Prakash Ambedkar’s VBA announced an alliance and also made it clear that the VBA would be part of the MVA.
Days later, the MVA plunged into chaos over Ambedkar’s remark as the Congress claimed that the VBA was in alliance only with Uddhav’s Sena and not part of the larger alliance. The Sena, on the other hand, countered the claim and said that Ambedkar joining the MVA had Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s approval.
Soon after announcing an alliance with the Sena, VBA chief Ambedkar told a TV news channel that Pawar was siding with the BJP. “Even today, Sharad Pawar is with the BJP. Three-four days after the swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar as chief minister and deputy chief minister in 2019, in an interview published in a newspaper, Ajit Pawar was quoted saying that he did not understand why people were blaming him. He said this was decided by our party. I was the first to go… This was decided before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
The remarks drew a sharp response from the NCP which advised the Sena to take up the matter with the VBA in all seriousness. “The Shiv Sena which has struck an alliance with the VBA should see it to that no such statements are made about MVA leaders by parties that are their partners. We will not approve of any such statement made against our leader,” NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapashe said.
Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole, on the other hand, said that Ambedkar’s VBA was in alliance with the Sena alone, and there was no proposal to include it in the MVA. “The VBA was not part of MVA but was in alliance with Shiv Sena (UBT). We have not received any proposal for inclusion of VBA in MVA,” Patole said on Thursday.
Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena (UBT), however, countered the remarks and said that VBA’s inclusion in the MVA has Rahul Gandhi’s approval. “I have spoken to Rahul Gandhi about our alliance with Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi. He is okay with the VBA joining Maha Vikas Aghadi,” Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena (UBT) told The Indian Express.
Raut further said he disagreed with Ambedkar’s statements on the NCP chief and advised restraint while talking about members of the MVA. “The NCP chief played a key role in setting up the third front to take on the BJP. He is the pillar of the third front,” Raut added.