Just a year after it was formed, Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi has fallen apart as one of its key constituency AIMIM has walked out after repeated seat-sharing talks failed.
AIMIM blamed Ambedkar for the parting of ways, saying he was inflexible and was underrating Asaduddin Owaisi’s party. State AIMIM chief Imtiaz Jaleel, MP, told The Indian Express that AIMIM has decided to contest the ensuing Maharashtra assembly elections on its own. “We are no more part of Vanchit Bahujan Agadhi,” he said.
Citing differences with Ambedkar, Jaleel said, “For past two months, we have been holding discussions over seat-sharing. We had placed demand for 74 seats and were ready to come down. However, Ambedkar repeatedly offered us eight seats. He was not ready go beyond that. This is not acceptable to us. And therefore, we have decided to contest assembly elections on our own,” he said.
Jaleel said Ambedkar was not flexible during talks and refused to increase the number of seats. “He offered us eight seats. We held several rounds of talks, believing that he might rethink and increase the seats. But he refused. He remained steadfast on his number,” he said.
Jaleel said Ambedkar believed that AIMIM does not have strong base to contest such a large number of seats. “He thinks that we can contest only eight seats. But we believe we have candidates on at least 70 seats. He was rating us low,” he said.
Stating that he will contest at least 70 seats in the ensuing elections, Jaleel said, “We will pick candidates from different backgrounds. They will not just be Muslim, but would be from different religions and castes,” he said.
The VBA was formed in March 2018. Ambedkar had merged his Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh with AIMIM. It had held its first session in September last year in Solapur which had witnessed a huge turnout. Though no candidate of VBA, including the party chief won the Lok Sabha elections, it is believed the presence of VBA candidates led to the defeat of at least nine candidates belonging to the Congress-NCP. State Congress president Ashok Chavan was among those lost due to the presence of a VBA candidate in Nanded.