NEW DELHI: After the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena announced alliance with Prakash Ambedkar’s party Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), the new alliance partner was in disagreement with other Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) partners (NCP and Congress). Sources aware of the matter say that there has been no joint meeting held till now between MVA parties to resolve the dissent.
According to Congress leaders, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls may not be fought together if there are too many bumps in the alliance. They believe it could be Congress party separately allying with NCP and Udhav-led Sena with Ambedkar, who would contest elections away from each other, yet keeping the MVA alliance intact. “If this formula comes into existence, it will only be for the local elections,” a party insider said.
A Congress leader said, “Due to his statements, Prakash Ambedkar may have created some hurdle, but if the BJP, Shinde-led Sena and Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNC) come together, these four (NCP, Congress, Thackeray-led Sena and Ambedkar’s party) will also come together. This will be according to the demand of the situation.”
Meanwhile, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had called the meeting of his party leaders recently where the party decided to accommodate Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchi Bahujan Aghadi as part of Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena alliance. But, it was decided that during the elections, Ambedkar will get the seats from the Shiv Sena quota only.
However, there is another factor that has recently taken stronger shape and can decide the course of alliances in Maharashtra. Sanjay Raut has been a key player for the Sena and has been in pursuit of keeping the alliance intact and has also developed closer relationship with Rahul Gandhi, according to party leaders. “He has become close to the Gandhi as we have seen him vigorously participating in Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra. Thus, there is a greater possibility that these two big leaders can play an important role to project unity. Moreover, Raut can convince Rahul Gandhi to contest the elections together and persuade him that it would be win-win for all.”
Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Sanjay Raut had recently said to a leading daily, “I have spoken to Rahul Gandhi about our alliance with Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi. He is okay with the VBA joining Maha Vikas Aghadi,”
Raut’s reaction came after Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Nana Patole had said, “The VBA was not part of MVA, but was in alliance with Shiv Sena (UBT). We have not received any proposal for inclusion of VBA in MVA.” The cracks started emerging after Ambedkar spoke to a TV news channel recently, alleging that NCP chief Sharad Pawar was siding with the BJP. However, Sanjay Raut refused to agree and said, “The Shiv Sena does not agree with Ambedkar’s statement about the NCP chief. In MVA, everyone should adopt restraint while commenting about its own members.” He added, “No one should make such a statement at a time when the NCP chief played a key role in setting up the third front to take on the BJP. He is the pillar of the third front.”