A DAY after the show of strength at Solapur, Bahujan Vanchit Aghadi (BVA) leader Prakash Ambedkar filed his nomination from Akola on Tuesday. The grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar, he is contesting from both Solapur and Akola — which he had earlier represented twice — this Lok Sabha polls.
While maintaining that every election was a challenge, Ambedkar ruled out competition from the Congress in Akola. “We are not worried about Congress here, as they were never in the race,” he told The Indian Express. In Akola, BJP and Congress have renominated their candidates — sitting BJP MP Sanjay Dhotre and Congress’ Hidayat Patel.
Ambedkar, leader of Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM), has allied with Asaduddin Owiasi’s AIMIM to set up the BVA to contest the Lok Sabha polls. He is depending on the support from the OBC community, a section of the Muslims and the anti-incumbency factor to sail through.
Ambedkar’s wife Anjali Maydeo, who is stationed at Akola and is a key BBM leader, said: “At least at three places in Vidarbha, including Washim and Yavatmal, BJP-Sena candidates have said that that their main opponent was Bahujan Vanchit Aghadi.” “Each election is a challenge. Fielding a Muslim candidate will not impact my share of votes in Akola. In Solapur, as far as the Scheduled Castes votes are concerned, I will get 99 per cent of the votes,” Ambedkar said. In Solapur, while Congress has fielded veteran leader Sushil Kumar Shinde, BJP is going with Lingayat leader Jai Sidheshwar Shivacharya.
While Ambedkar faces a triangular contest in both Akola and Solapur, what has kept BVA optimistic among other factors is the strong presence of the members of the Dhangar (shepherd) community in these areas. The Dhangars have been seeking inclusion in the tribal ST quota.
Maydeo said social mobilisation from various communities has led to the setting of BVA, which essentially is a group of different groups that may or may not have a political identity. “We have seen the frustration among the deprived communities and it has given a fresh impetus for these groups to come together and contest elections,” she added.
BVA is now awaiting the election symbol, which is likely to be allotted on March 29. “We have asked for cup and saucer, followed by whistle and then key,” Maydeo said.