VANCHIT BAHUJAN Aghadi (VBA), a tie-up between Prakash Ambedkar’s Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM, is set to go it alone in the Assembly elections, likely to be held in October. Maintaining that there is no chance of a pre-poll alliance with the “directionless” Congress, Ambedkar on Thursday said VBA will field candidates in at least one-third of the 288 seats across the state.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Ambedkar said, “The political developments across the country, especially when it comes to mainstream parties like the Congress, do not provide conducive platform for any pre-poll alliance.” He added that there was no question of any electoral understanding with BJP and Shiv Sena.
Expressing disappointment at the manner in which the Congress was grappling with its leadership crisis, Ambedkar said: “The Lok Sabha defeat has exposed problems within the Congress. It has been left directionless. Rahul Gandhi has resigned as the party chief… Even a month later, the party cannot decide who would be its leader.”
“In such a scenario, where is the question of holding any dialogue and with whom?” he wondered when asked why he is not in favour of allying with the Congress.
On mainstream parties entering into tie-ups, Ambedkar said: “Whether it is Congress-NCP or BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, they will have plenty of problems to tackle. In any case, we are very clear about of our agenda, which is unlikely to be affected by other alliances.”
In the Lok Sabha elections, VBA had polled 41 lakh votes, with AIMIM’s Imtiyaz Jaleel winning the Aurangabad seat. The VBA had also spoiled the prospects of the Congress-NCP in nine seats and affected polling figures of the BJP-Shiv Sena in at least four seats.
On him failing to win either of the two seats he contested in the Lok Sabha polls, Ambedkar said: “Our politics and objective are not confined to electoral results alone. We have emerged as an alternative to the mainstream parties, which are perceived as catering to the rich and powerful.”
“We are targeting the oppressed and backward classes. Our objective is to address the concerns of those segments that feel disenchanted with both Congress-NCP and Shiv Sena-BJP,” he added.
Ambedkar maintained that the unrest within the Congress will impact its alliance with the NCP. “Also, many within the BJP and the Sena, who would fail to get tickets for the state polls, would either turn rebel or look for other avenues to fulfil their political ambitions.”
On MNS president Raj Thackeray meeting Congress leader Sonia Gandhi recently, Ambedkar said, “It does not impact our politics or segment. Moreover, MNS has always been perceived as an anti-north Indian party. So, it is unlikely Congress would like to ally with MNS. It will prove detrimental as north Indian votes account for up to 20 per cent of the total votes in Mumbai.”