The Vanchit Bahujan Agadhi, which had caused a flutter on the Lok Sabha poll pitch, has sought to know from the Congress-led front whether it still maintained that VBA is the B-team of BJP before any discussions of the alliance for assembly seats takes place.
“We want to know from the Congress-led front whether it still considers the VBA BJP’s B-team. They had repeatedly accused the VBA of being working for the BJP. And that’s why we want them clarify their stand. This will help us decide whether to have an alliance with them or not,” Prakash Ambedkar, who heads the VBA, told this paper on Monday. After the seat-sharing talks for Lok Sabha elections had failed, Congress and NCP leaders had repeatedly accused VBA of being the B-team of BJP.
Ambedkar said on June 7, the VBA will meet and take a decision whether to have an alliance with Congress-led front in the ensuing assembly elections. “We have not taken any decision whether to ally with the Congress-led front or not,” he said.
In a tweet last week, Ambedkar had said that they would demand “equal treatment” from the Congress-led front during the seat-sharing discussions. However, on Monday, he said now VBA now wants to first know the view of Congress-led front about their identity. “We will make the demand after we get clarity from them about our identity,” he said.
At the Congress-NCP meeting held last week for a discussion on ensuing assembly elections, not much was apparently discussed about VBA. At the meeting NCP State chief Jayant Patil said,”VBA has helped BJP in the recently held Lok Sabha elections but we have not taken any discussion regarding seat-sharing with them,” he said.
While State Congress chief Ashok Chavan was not available for comment, a Congress spokesperson said one round of discussions regarding seat-sharing has been held and there will be a few more rounds when the issue of VBA will be discussed threatbare.
Farmer leader Raju Shetti, who was present at the meeting, said there was need to take VBA on board as they had caused damage to the maha-alliance in 9-10 Lok Sabha seats. “During the campaigning, I had held dicussions with Prakash Ambedkar in bid to get him on board but the effort did not yield result. I will again try to meet him and discuss the issue,” Shetti said. To this, Ambedkar said,”If Shetti has joined VBA, he would have remained the MP.”
Shetti had also met MNS chief Raj Thackeray and urged him to join the Congress-led front. “Thackeray told me that he needed time to decide on the issue,” he said.
Shetti had lost from Hatkanangle seat by a margin of one lakh vote. The VBA candidate here had secured nearly one lakh votes.
Before the LS election campaign began, Congress-led maha-alliance had tried to rope in. Ambedkar had first demanded 12 seats and then wanted Congress to bring RSS within the fold of the Constitution. And before the Congress-led front could take a decision, he went ahead and fielded several candidates. He had then insisted that he would not talk to any State leaders, but would hold dicussions only with Congress president Rahul Gandhi. However, Gandhi refused to entertain him. When asked whether Rahul Gandhi had invited him for talks, Ambedkar said he was not given an appointment.