Nanded: The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ashok Chavan has alleged that the Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) is the ‘B’ team of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Ambedkar has fielded candidates in the Lok Sabha polls only to split the vote bank of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance, he said.
Speaking to the Marathi newspaper ‘Navshakti’, sister publication of The Free Press Journal, at Nanded, Chavan revealed the Congress was ready to make VBA a part of the Congress-NCP Maha Aghadi.
When asked about the fate of the Congress after the VBA jumped into the poll fray, Chavan said, “We had offered Ambedkar six to eight Lok Sabha seats. But, Ambedkar announced 22 candidates from his party, even as negotiations were on.”
Ambedkar had demanded a seat share from the remaining 26 seats of the total 48 seats, he said. “Their demands were increasing day-by-day. We held negotiations five or six times. But he was never serious about talks. We realised he was stalling and did not plan to ally with the Aghadi.
Had we given him more seats, the Congress and NCP would have less than 22 seats to contest,” claimed Chavan. Chavan said the vote share and the number of seats that may be won by the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance will definitely decline. “The BJP has fielded the VBA to check loss of its own seats and to split votes of the Congress-NCP alliance,” said Chavan.
Elaborating how Dalits and Muslims are the traditional vote bank of the Congress and the NCP, Chavan said, “VBA supporters are actually traditional Congress voters. They know that the VBA is the BJP’s B team. Only a Congress alliance can defeat the BJP in the election and only the Congress can dethrone Modi.
These voters will vote for the Congress candidate and not for the VBA.” The BJP has focused on the Nanded LS seat and plans to defeat Chavan in LS polls. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and several other BJP leaders have held public meetings in Nanded.
When asked why the BJP has targeted him, Chavan said, “I won the 2014 LS poll in the midst of a Modi wave. That is why the BJP is frustrated and wants to defeat me. However, the people of Nanded have faith with me and they will vote for me again.“Modi held a rally in Nanded, urging people to defeat me.
CM Fadnavis has held four rallies, as have Union Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Maharashtra’s minister for women and child welfare, Pankaja Munde. Apart from them, Prakash Ambedkar, the leader of the BJP’s Team ‘B’ too held public rallies. The BJP has assigned poll duty to its party workers from other parts of the state in Nanded.
It shows how the BJP is scared of the Congress and Chavan. However, people are smart enough to remain with the Congress,” said Chavan. Fadnavis, in his speech, had said, ‘Chavan is a dealer, not a leader’. Defending himself, Chavan said his family has been in business for the last several years. “I am not smuggling or involved in illegal activities.
Fadnavis cannot dictate to us what business we should be in,” Chavan said, adding, the BJP had given a ticket to a the man in the liquor business. Raj Thackeray had addressed a rally in Nanded. His Maharashtra Navnirman Sena is not contesting the LS polls.
However, he is asking people to vote for the Congress-NCP candidates. The CM had criticised Chavan over Raj’s rally and alleged that Chavan had hired a leader. Hitting back, Chavan said, the BJP candidate was not originally from the BJP, but imported from the Shiv Sena. “Before, making allegations, Fadnavis should look at their own candidate,” he said.
He said Modi had failed to fulfil his poll promises, which included employment generation, hence the suggestion to youths, asking them to sell ‘bhaji-pakoda’. “Modi is emotionally using the issue of Pakistan attack, air strike, the Kashmir issue and the country’s security, as he has nothing else to show people,” Chavan concluded.