Nagpur: Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar on Thursday said his party is ready for talks with Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar for an alliance for the upcoming Maharashtra assembly polls to avoid division of “secular” votes. He said Ambedkar, who heads the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), should come forward for holding pre-poll alliance talks with the Congress. Addressing a press conference at Press Club here, Wadettiwar also said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had worked very hard in the recent Lok Sabha elections, but partymen fell short in their efforts.
Asked about Ambedkar's reported statement that his front will leave only 40 assembly seats (of the total 288) for the Congress in case of an alliance, Wadettiwar, “We do not know what is going on his mind.” In the recent general elections, the Congress had secured more than 15 per cent of the votes polled in Maharashtra, he said. “On the other hand, the VBA got 6.7 per cent votes and yet they are talking about giving 40 seats to the Congress,” said the leader of opposition in the state assembly. Ambedkar's statement indicates he has already taken a stance on pre-poll alliance, Wadettiwar said.
The Dalit leader has floated the VBA, a social coalition of Dalits, Muslims and OBCs, in alliance with Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM. “There should be no division of secular votes and the country must march ahead on path shown by the Constitution,” he said. “Maharashtra is a progressive state which follows the ideologies of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Shahu Maharaj and Mahatma Jyotiba Phule.