Prakash Ambedkar Plays Spoiler for Oppn
Mumbai: A‘grand opposition alliance’ to take on the Shiv Sena and the BJP has hit a hurdle with Prakash Ambedkar of the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) announcing a tie-up for future polls with the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) in the state.
The tie-up raises many questions for the prospect of the Grand Alliance as the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had spoken about the need to get Ambedkar, who has a strong hold on the scheduled castes, to take on the BJP and secondly, the Congress indicating that it is averse to a tie-up with MIM for the polls as it is not a ‘secular party’. Prakash Ambedkar on Sunday was, however, combative saying that the party went ahead with its own alliance as they were tired of the Congress ‘games’. “They did not initiate talks with us till now, they were playing their own game, they were in a wait-and-watch mode on the issue of alliances, so we went ahead and did our own tie-up,” Ambedkar told ET.
He, interestingly, indicated that he was still interested in a tie-up with the Congress-NCP but said that the two parties should give it at least 12 Lok Sabha seats, out of the 48, for contesting. Opinion in the Congress camp was sharply divided, while one senior leader said that the move was meant to be seen as a pressure tactic for the Congress-NCP combine to agree to an alliance on Ambedkar’s terms, another senior leader accussed Ambedkar and MIM of being the B team of the BJP. “This has come as a shocker for us, if they intend to go on an alliance with MIM then it obviously will divide the Dalits, secular vo- te bank and that would help the BJP,” said a senior Congress leader. Ambedkar shot back saying that he could also accuse the Congress of being the ‘B’ team of the NCP.
Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan, however, expressed hope that Ambedkar can still be persuaded to join their alliance. “We are still trying to talk to him, our opposition leader (Radha Krishna Vikhe Patil) is in touch with him. We never expected this alliance (BBM+MIM). We will initiate talks with him on the issue and try to understand his political views,” said Chavan to ET.
Chavan, however, clarified that the party was still firm that there would be no space for a tie-up with MIM.
The Congress-NCP was trying to stitch a grand alliance in order to take on a potential BJP-Sena tie-up in the state.
PRAKASH AMBEDKAR Leader, Bharipa Bahujan MahasanghThey (Congress) did not initiate talks with us till now, they were playing their own game, they were in a wait-and-watch mode on the issue of alliances, so we went ahead and did our own tie-up