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5-min read

How Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi Split Cong-NCP Votes, Benefiting BJP-Sena in 9 Seats

Even as caste-based voting took a back-seat over nationalism in the Lok Sabha election, Maharashtra witnessed a reverse trend. The newly formed VBA got about 41 lakh votes, which is about 14% of the total votes polled in the state.

Akash Gulankar | News18.com

Updated:May 29, 2019, 5:16 PM IST
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How Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi Split Cong-NCP Votes, Benefiting BJP-Sena in 9 Seats
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New Delhi: Asaduddin Owaisi has openly expressed his discontent over the failed VBA-Congress alliance for the first-time in his recent tweet. The National President of AIMIM tweeted, "During the elections, I’d publicly asked INC to agree to a seat sharing formula that is respectful of Prksh_Ambedkar sahab’s stature. But Chavan & SAHEB (Sharad Pawar) live in a world where they’re entitled to obedience & loyalty of Vanchit, Muslim, SC/ST communities (sic)."

He has also shared a news article that talks about the probable Congress-VBA allaince ahead of Assembly elections in Maharashtra.

On May 23, as the saffron camp celebrated the stupendous impact of the ‘Modi wave’ across the country for a second consecutive term, Maharashtra saw the emergence of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) in the politics of the state.

In a country where caste-based voting seemed to have taken a back-seat over the issue of nationalism, Maharashtra witnessed a reverse trend.

The newly formed VBA garnered about 41 lakh votes in the Lok Sabha election. That is about 14% of the total votes polled in Maharashtra.

The emergence of new party founded by Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dalit icon and and social reformer BR Ambedkar, adversely affected the vote-share of the Congress in many seats.

If we take a look at vote-share, it is clear the Congress and its allies could have won from at least seven more seats where the VBA’s votes are more than the NDA candidate’s winning margin against the allies.

These seats include Buldhana, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Parabhni, Sangli, Hatkanangle, Nanded and Solapur. Even in the Akola Lok Sabha constituency, from where Prakash Ambedkar was in fray, the VBA secured the second spot with 2,78,848 votes.

The party also got more than a one lakh votes in 13 constituencies, while it crossed the 50,000-vote mark in 29 other seats.

In Palghar, the VBA’s share was the least with 13,728 votes, while Sangli turned out to be the biggest support ground for the party with 3,00,234 votes.

Prakash Ambedkar told News 18, “We secured about 41 lakh votes in this Lok Sabha election, which is about 14% of the total votes polled in the state. We have enough votes to get the status of a regional party.”

Stating that the Congress was already “destroyed”, he said it was because of the grand old party that VBA lost 10 seats.

“We will contest separately if the Congress does not talk to us on the same level. Both of us will benefit if we come together,” Ambedkar indicated.

Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan had earlier told News18 that if the two parties enter the fray together, there would less division of votes and his party was looking forward to working with the VBA.

Chavan’s suggestion, however, was too little and came too late.

Nanded, which withstood the ‘Modi-wave’ in 2014, also turned saffron this time.

Ashok Chavan, who was seeking a re-election from the seat, lost by a margin of 40,148 votes, However, the VBA got about 1,66,196 votes. It is believed these ‘secular’ votes could have gone in the account of the Congress had the new outfit not been fray.

Similarly, in Solapur, where former Union minister Sushilkumar Shinde got 3,66,377 votes, Ambedkar bagged 1,70,007 votes.

Their total share exceeded the number of votes bagged by BJP’s winning candidate Siddheshwar Maharaj by 11,399 votes. Maharaj won from Solapur with 5,24,985 votes.

BJP’s Ashok Nete won the Gadchiroli-Chimur seat with 5,19,968 votes, while Dr Namdev Usendi of the Congress came second with 4,42,442 votes, while the VBA candidate had 1,11,468 votes in his kitty. Had Ambedkar not fielded any contender from the seat, Usendi might have become the winner.

Likewise, VBA’s Baliram Siraskar made a big dent in the NCP’s vote-share in Buldhana. He got 1,72,627 votes, while the winning margin of Shiv Sena candidate Prataprao Jadhav was 1,33,287 votes which is about 40,000 more than that of Jadhav’s total votes. NCP’s Rajendra Shingne secured the second spot with 3,88,690 votes.

In Parbhani, VBA candidate Alamgir Mohammad Khan bagged 1,49,946 votes. The runner up, Rajesh Vitekar of the NCP, got 4,96,742 votes. Together, their tally exceeds winning margin of Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Jadhav (1,07,747 votes).

Congress ally Swabhimani Paksha (SWP), led by Raju Shetti, also faced a drubbing in Hatkanangle and Sangli, where the VBA performed really well.

Shetti, a two-time, was seeking a re-election and contested against Dhairyasheel Mane of the Shiv Sena from Hatkanangle. Shetti lost by a margin of 96,039 votes.

The VBA candidate secured 1,23,419 votes. The SWP and VBA’s total share is 27,380 votes more than Mane’s victory margin.

Even in Sangli, the SWP and VBA together garnered 6,44,877 votes, which is far more than the 5,08,995 votes secured by BJP’s Sanjaykaka Patil who won the seat.

The VBA had fielded candidates from all the 48 constituencies in Maharashtra and won the Aurangabad seat, where its ally, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), was in fray.

Imtiaz Jaleel won the seat by a narrow margin of 4,234 votes against Shiv Sena’s Chandrakant Khaire, who bagged 3,84,550 votes.

Earlier, the Congress had denied the VBA’s demand for a coalition on the ground that the latter was trying to bargain for more than it was worth.

Some Congress office-bearers had also alleged the VBA was the BJP’s B-team, after which Prakash Ambedkar declared to contest from all the seats in the state.

The outfit is a consolidation of over 200 small anti-caste organisations in the state. Ambedkar got all of these organisations under one umbrella to form a political outfit in a bid to give voice to the minorities in the state.

This changing dynamics may build a new narrative in the voting arithmetic in the upcoming Assembly election in the state.

Political expert Ashok Wankhede said the VBA can’t be underestimated anymore. “Looking at its vote-share, it is clear the VBA already has a solid base in many assembly segments which is enough to win those seats. Even if it manages to win 10-15 of these seats, it could become kingmakers,” Wankhade said.

Wankhede told News18 Owaisi has an influence in areas like Osmanabad, Solapur, Nanded and Washim which were previously part of the Nizam’s empire.

“Muslims in these areas associate with him. However, the VBA has consolidated the SC votes in the areas. This combination has now become a deadly one. Both the NDA and Cong-NCP alliance need to consider the VBA factor while crafting their strategy for the upcoming poll,” he added.

Wankhede said both the coalitions need the support of Independents to form the next government.

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| Edited by: Sohini Goswami
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