The Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) went solo in the Maharashtra Assembly elections this year. Founded in 2018, the party was in alliance with All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) until the Lok Sabha polls held this year. They had contested 47 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats but drew a blank. The alliance, however,bagged 14 per cent of the total votes polled in the state.
For the assembly elections in the state, the VBA fielded candidates in 243 out of 288 constituencies in the state, both to expand the organisational footprint and to make inroads in Western Maharashtra, where the BJP-Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP are in a big fight. The VBA focused on micro-politics. In every constituency, the local issues were being taken up to win public support. The AIMIM’s decision to stay away from the VBA was dismissed by Ambedkar as insignificant.
Anjali Maydeo Ambedkar, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) leader and wife of the outfit’s chief Prakash Ambedkar, is confident that the VBA would win in at least three Assembly constituencies in Akola district, where first-time VBA candidates include a college principal, a former sitting MLA and a union leader of ASHA workers.
The Akola Assembly constituency is part of the Akola Lok Sabha constituency, along with five other Assembly segments — Akot, Akola East, Balapur and Murtizapur in Akola district, and Risod in adjoining Washim district.
Ambedkar has been an MP twice from the Akola Loksabha constituency before losing his seat in the 2019 elections. His politics in the last four decades has seen a paradigm shift. The grandson of B R Ambedkar had inherited the legacy of Dalit politics in his youth days. Instead of adding one more faction to the already existing nine splinter groups under the umbrella of Republican Party of India, Ambedkar decided to redefine his politics beyond Dalits.
The focus is Western Maharashtra with a new plan, which will spring many surprises, said Ambedkar.
The opposition parties have dismissed the VBA as a B-team of the BJP. Both Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat and NCP’s Ajit Pawar had invited Ambedkar to be part of the alliance.