The Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) led by Dalit leader and Dr BR Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar has announced that their alliance will be fielding candidates from all 42 seats in Maharashtra for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The alliance constitutes of Prakash’s Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh along with Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM).
On March 15th, Ambedkar let out the list of candidates to contest under the banner of VBA. There is specific mention of each candidate’s caste status in the candidate list.
Mumbai Mirror reports Prakash Ambedkar saying that since there was no response from the Congress for an alliance, the VBA had decided to go it alone in Maharashtra. “We had asked for 22 seats from them, but till now there has been no response from the Congress. We are left with no option but to go ahead and contest all the seats in Maharashtra,” he said.
Amid this, it is expected that the AIMIM may field candidates from at least two seats in Maharashtra for the Lok Sabha polls. The party already has a sitting MLA from Aurangabad. This seat will be retained by AIMIM again, along with Mumbai North Central constituency. This constituency has a large share of Dalit and Muslim voters.
Earlier the Janata Dal (S) led by retd. Justice BG Kolse-Patil was also part of the VBA front, but later on, the party withdrew their support and announced that they will not be fielding any candidates in this election. Kolse-Patil criticised the VBA for not joining the Congress-NCP alliance in the state. The JD(S) and Indian National Congress are allies in the government in Karnataka.
Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha seats, which is the second highest in the country after Uttar Pradesh (80). The state will go to elections in four phases, from April 11th to April 29th.