THE Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) seems to be in no mood to quickly embrace the Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), which has struck an alliance with the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT). There is a growing feeling in the MVA that the VBA might “spoil the atmosphere” if it is given entry without proving its mettle.
Ambedkar’s repeated statements have not gone down well with the Congress, Sena (UBT) and NCP. As a result, the MVA is veering around to the view that the VBA should be kept at a distance for now. “We welcome like-minded parties in our fold. But the recent statements of the VBA chief are not in the interest of the MVA. The VBA is currently in alliance with the Sena (UBT). Their alliance is limited to the Mumbai civic body polls. I think we will have to wait till the civic body elections to decide whether the VBA will be a part of the MVA,” said NCP chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase.
While Ambedkar has openly alleged that NCP chief Sharad Pawar was siding with the BJP and made remarks against Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut, MVA leaders have avoided getting into any duel with him given his reputation as the grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. “His comments against Pawar were not appropriate. I don’t want to get into any arguments with him…,” said Raut when asked about Ambedkar’s statements.
Both the NCP and Congress are currently harping on the theme that since there has been no proposal received by them for including the VBA in the MVA, there is no need to discuss the issue. Both the Congress and NCP apparently want to limit the VBA to the Sena (UBT) rather than include it as a full-fledged MVA partner. “After the split in the Shiv Sena, the MVA is trying to put its house in order. It does not want to further spoil the atmosphere with the entry of the VBA,” said an NCP leader.
The NCP chief himself clarified things at a press conference in Kolhapur on Saturday.
“As there is no proposal for an alliance before us, we would not like to discuss it,” Sharad Pawar said. The Congress too avoided any discussion on Ambedkar. “The Sena (UBT) and VBA are in alliance… We have not received any proposal for their inclusion in the MVA,” MPCC president Nana Patole said.
MVA leaders, including those from the Sena (UBT), said they have taken Ambedkar’s statements seriously and therefore will go slow in deciding the VBA’s entry into the MVA.
Ambedkar has alleged that Sharad Pawar was siding with the BJP. He also questioned the locus standi of Raut, who advised him not to make any comments on Sharad Pawar. In his latest statement, Ambedkar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not misusing the investigative agencies.
“If I was the Prime Minister, I would have done the same thing to sustain myself,” he said.
The NCP chief retorted, “We don’t pay attention to what others are saying. But our experience is that investigative agencies are being misused.”
“All like-minded parties who want to end the dictatorial regime of the BJP are welcome in the MVA fold. We expect them to strengthen the MVA with their entry. The MVA is fully intact. If the VBA wants to join the MVA, it should help further strengthen the MVA and that is what we expect from it. But right now, there is no such proposal for inclusion of the VBA in the MVA,” said Congress chief spokesperson Atul Londhe.
Asked whether Patole has spoken to Ambedkar, Londhe replied in the negative. Similarly, NCP leaders said there has been no communication between party leaders and the VBA chief.
The VBA on its part seems to be seriously trying to become part of the MVA. Ambedkar has himself made it clear. “Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray has himself told us that he will make efforts to make the VBA a part of the MVA,” Ambedkar said after the Sena (UBT) and VBA firmed up their alliance.
Ambedkar added, “Our alliance with the Shiv Sena (UBT) will not only be for the Mumbai civic body poll but also for all elections till 2024. After the alliance between the VBA and the Sena, workers and leaders of both parties celebrated. It shows we are on the path of success.”