Mumbai, Jan 25 (IANS) Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) president Prakash Ambedkar on Thursday spurned the invitation of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) for seat-sharing talks and accused Maharashtra unit Congress president Nana Patole of playing ‘mind games’.
Ending a long suspense, the alliance of Congress-Shiv Sena (UBT)-Nationalist Congress Party (SP) sent a formal invitation to VBA to participate in the Lok Sabha seat-sharing talks scheduled for Thursday evening.
However, Ambedkar snubbed the request with a letter to Patole which read: “It seems that you are playing mind games with the people of Maharashtra or perhaps there is a ‘locha’ in your brain.” Ambedkar’s obvious reference was to a popular dialogue on ‘chemical locha’ (chemical muddle) from the Bollywood blockbuster “Lage Raho Munnabhai” (2006).
Declining the formal letterhead invite by MVA, signed by its top leaders, the two-time MP, Ambedkar has given a tall order — that instead of Patole, the letter must be signed by Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, along with NCP (SP) President Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena (UBT) President Uddhav Thackeray.
The MVA’s earlier invite said that since Ambedkar is himself speaking on issues like dictatorship and saving the Constitution, he was invited to attend the meeting on Thursday on seat-sharing talks.
On Ambedkar’s latest condition, an MVA leader said that “Ambedkar is attempting to make a backdoor entry to the INDIA bloc” after getting an opportunity to join the Maharashtra alliance.
Ambedkar hit back at Patole, saying that on one hand, the Congress in-charge for Maharashtra, Ramesh Chennithala, on Tuesday in Pune said that the VBA will be included in MVA once the elections are announced, on other hand, you (Patole) are posting invitation signed by yourself.
“The other two signatories (Patil and Raut) in the letter have, concisely and clearly, shared with me in my multiple meetings that the Congress high-command has not bestowed you with any decision-making authority for alliance and coalition-related decisions in Maharashtra,” said the VBA chief, who is the grandson of B.R. Ambedkar.
“In the meetings with Shiv Sena, I have been told that both Shiv Sena (UBT) and NCP correspond directly with either Rahul Gandhi and Kharge and does not keep you in the loop because you do not have authority in decision-making in both MVA and INDIA,” Ambedkar said in a strongly-worded letter.
“Has the AICC or the Congress high-command allowed you to take decisions pertaining to coalition and alliance in Maharashtra? On Wednesday, our chief spokesperson Siddharth Mokle very clearly said in Aurangabad that the signatories in any invitation to VBA has to be the presidents of the respective parties in the MVA — Thackeray, Pawar and Kharge,” Ambedkar said.
He said on part of Congress, the letter can be signed by Kharge, Chennithala, Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi — and the VBA would attend the seat-sharing negotiations.
Bowing before the VBA demands, the MVA had issued the invite on a letterhead, duly signed by Patole, NCP (SP) state president Jayant Patil and Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut, for the 48 Lok Sabha seat-sharing in the state, on Thursday afternoon (January 25) at a private hotel in Nariman Point.
Mokale had made it clear that the VBA is keen to be a part of the MVA as well as the national Opposition INDIA bloc but so far it has been kept out of both, and the party on several occasions threatened to contest all the Maharashtra seats solo.
He reiterated the VBA’s stance that in order to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “it was imperative for all the Opposition parties to unite” for the 2024 parliament polls, but the Congress seems to be ‘killing time with new excuses each time’.