THE Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), led by Prakash Ambedkar, in alliance with Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), proved to be a gamechanger for the BJP and its allies in a handful of seats across Maharashtra, denting the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party candidates’ vote share in key constituencies, including Nanded, where state Congress chief Ashok Chavan suffered a defeat.
Prakash Ambedkar said, “The Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi had evolved its own strategy and agenda that was centred around the oppressed and backward segments of the community. Our fight was against both the BJP-Shiv Sena and the Congress-NCP. I was from the beginning open for alliance with Congress-NCP. They have to explain why it failed.”
The VBA won a single seat in the state, Aurangabad, but played a decisive role in defeating the Congress-NCP in Nanded, Osmanabad and Parbhani in Marathwada, Akola and Gadchiroli-Chimur in Vidarbha, and Solapur and Hatkanangale in western Maharashtra. In Nanded, Chavan’s losing margin was just over 42,000 votes, while the VBA’s Yashpal Bhinge polled over 1,64,000 votes. In Parbhani, the NCP’s Rajesh Vitekar, a former Zilla Parishad president who ran a very successful campaign, lost by 42,189 votes. Here, the VBA’s Alamgir Khan, an AIMIM candidate from Hyderabad, polled 1,49,946 votes.
Former chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde lost to the BJP’s Swami Siddheshwar Shivacharya by 1,56,000 votes in Solapur, where Ambedkar was himself in the fray and polled 1,68,694 votes — 15.7 per cent of the vote share.
Farmer leader and sitting MP Raju Shetti of the Swabhimani Paksha lost in Kolhapur’s Hatkanangle, from where he has won twice in the past. Dhairyasheel Mane of the Shiv Sena won by a just over 96,000 votes while VBA candidate Aslam Sayyed received more than 1,21,900 votes. In Gadchiroli-Chimur, Congress candidate Namdeo Usendi’s losing margin was 76,694 while the VBA candidate received over 1,09,000 votes.
In Akola, the second seat that Ambedkar contested, he finished second with 2,77,522 votes, a little lower than the Congress candidate’s losing margin.
Similarly, in Hingoli, Congress candidate Subhash Wankhede lost to the Sena’s Hemant Patil by at least 1,75,000 votes, while Mohan Rathod of the VBA polled 1,44,000 votes. In several constituencies, VBA candidates polled between 6 and 15 per cent of the votes. In Aurangabad, the VBA’s Imtiyaz Jaleel polled over 32 per cent of the vote and won by a margin of less than 5,000 votes.