Mumbai: Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar on Friday released a list of 37 Lok Sabha candidates who will contest the upcoming polls under the banner of his new political front, dealing a blow to Congress-NCP efforts to forge a grand alliance against the BJP in the state.
They will contest the next month's polls under the banner of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), a social coalition of Dalits and Muslims jointly formed by Ambedkar and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) led by Asaduddin Owaisi.
The list includes some constituencies in Mumbai. Interestingly, the VBA has mentioned the castes of all the candidates who figure in the list.
However, the Hyderabad-based AIMIM has already announced it will not contest the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra, which has 48 parliamentary seats, the second highest after Uttar Pradesh's 80.
Speaking to reporters here after releasing the list, Ambedkar said he has not declared the candidates on the remaining 11 seats, which include Akola, Solapur, Nagpur and Aurangabad.
"In the next four days, suspense over these seats would be over," said Ambedkar, who also heads the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, a faction of the Republican Party of India.
Asked about the Aurangabad seat, he said Owaisi should take a call on who will contest from this constituency in Central Maharashtra.
"Whoever contests from this seat, would be supported by the Vanchit Aghadi," he said. Asked if AIMIM legislator Imtiyaz Jaleel would contest as an independent from the Aurangabad Lok Sabha seat, he said this question should be put to the Hyderabad-based party.
Ambedkar, the grandson of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar, further said the candidates for Akola and Solapur seats will also be announced soon.
The Dalit leader is expected to contest from at least one of these seats. Among the prominent candidates announced Friday, Anil Jadhav will contest from Pune, while Navnath Padalkar will be fielded from Baramati.
Aruna Mali will contest from Kolhapur and Anil Kumar from South Mumbai. Mumbai South Central's candidate will be Sanjay Bhosale.
Sambhaji Shivaji Kashid will be fielded from North East Mumbai, whereas Rajaram Patil will in the poll fray from Maval in Pune district.
Maharashtra will vote in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.
The Congress-NCP combine had been trying to bring Ambedkar, who has pockets of influence in the state, in its`maha agadhi', a grand alliance of anti-BJP parties. However, talks in this regard remained inconclusive.