Farmer leader and Hatkanangle MP Raju Shetti will talk to Congress president Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders to work towards the creation of a common minimum programme for the state.
Shetti said he would especially try to iron out differences and try to include Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh leader, Prakash Ambedkar, in the united opposition alliance.
In order to prevent the division of votes, a united opposition is preparing to take on the BJP. As talks between Congress and the NCP for seat sharing go on, all-out efforts are being made to include smaller parties like Shetti’s Swabhimani Paksha as well as Ambedkar’s Bharip.
Ambedkar had demanded 12 Lok Sabha seats from Congress and had claimed non-responsiveness of the party towards his demands. A few weeks back, Ambedkar had shared stage with All India Majleesh-E-Ittehadul-Mussalmeen (AIMIM) leader, Asaduddin Owaisi, in Aurangabad and signalled his decision to join hands with him for the upcoming elections. The meeting had attracted record attendance.
During the 2014 elections, Swabhimani Paksha was part of the BJP-led NDA. Even during the Assembly polls, the party had gone with the NDA but failed to win any seat. While electorally, the party might not be significant but it has a strong presence in the various pockets of the state, especially in the cane belt of Western Maharashtra.
By his own admission, Shetti has expressed strong reservations about the AIMIM, which he accuses of radicalism. “Even during the 2014 election, BJP had kept its radical politics under wraps and it only posted the wins, did it start talking about the same openly,” he said.
Politically, the cane growers, who form the bulk of Shetti’s supporters, will not take any political understanding with AIMIM lightly.
Formed in 1984, Bharip over the last few years has played its role in state politics. Post-2018 violence at Bhima Koregaon, Ambedkar — who is the grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar — has emerged as a strong leader among the scheduled caste, especially the youth.
Understanding between Bharip will be helpful for Swabhimani Paksha, given the fact the party aims to contest the Buldhana Lok Sabha seat in Vidharbha.
Talking about the common minimum programme, Shetti said Ambedkar had agreed to it. “AIMIM has to leave its strong identity politics aside if it wants to join the united opposition bandwagon,” he said.
Shetti said Ambedkar has made certain demands, but the state Congress leadership has failed to respond to them. “I will talk to Rahul Gandhi early next week to sort these out,” he said.