Maharashtra: Ahead of elections, Congress, NCP trying to win over Prakash Ambedkar

Mumbai: The Congress and NCP in Maharashtra are trying to bring Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar on board the proposed grand alliance of the like-minded parties ahead of the elections, senior politicians from both the parties said here Wednesday.

The All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) of Ambedkar have already decided to forge an alliance for the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly polls in 2019. The Congress had ruled out any truck with “communal” parties like the AIMIM. “The Congress leaders will meet Ambedkar’s representatives in a couple of days and the progress of the talks will be discussed in the next meeting of the Congress and the NCP,” NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said tonight.

When contacted, Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan said all issues would be resolved through talks, when asked about Ambedkar’s opposition to the NCP. Earlier in the day, leaders of the Congress and the NCP held a meeting here to formulate a strategy to contest the polls in an alliance. They also discussed the prevailing political situation in the state. The meeting was held at the official residence of Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil (Congress), the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly.

Chavan, Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay nirupam, former Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, party leaders Mohammed Arif Naseem Khan, former deputy chairman of Legislative Council Manikrao Thakre, opposition leader in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde (NCP) among others attended the meeting. Talking to reporters, Chavan said the deliberations held with smaller parties in the last few days were discussed at the meeting.

“Issues with Prakash Ambedkar can be resolved through talks. There will be clarity on political stand only through discussions. We will hold another meeting in the next few days,” he said. In the last meeting, the Congress and NCP, the erstwhile ruling parties, had decided to explore forging a grand alliance to take on the BJP and the Shiv Sena. They had authorised Vikhe Patil to talk with smaller parties. Similar meetings were held with Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna leader and Lok Sabha MP Raju Shetti, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader KapilPatil and Prakash Reddyof the CPM. Ambedkar, the gradson of Dalit icon Babasaheb Ambedkar, holds a sway over some Dalit pockets in Maharashtra, especially Vidarbha region.

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