Mumbai,(The Hindu): Days after announcing an electoral alliance with the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar on Thursday said he is keen on joining hands with the Congress, but not the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
“I have joined hands with the AIMIM, and now have left the door open for the Congress. We are ready to forge an alliance with the Congress even on the last day of submission of nomination papers. But I am not comfortable with the NCP as its Lok Sabha member from Satara talks in favour of Sambhaji Bhide,” Mr. Ambedkar told reporters at his office in Mumbai.
The BBM leader’s remarks were aimed at Udayanraje Bhosale who has been vocal about his support to Mr. Bhide, a right wing leader from Sangli district, who is facing charges for allegedly inciting violence in Bhima-Koregaon village in January. Mr. Ambedkar, on the other hand, has been demanding Mr. Bhide’s arrest claiming he was the brain behind the riots.
Mr. Ambedkar, however, has not completely ruled out the possibility of aligning with the NCP. “If the Congress assures me that the NCP will not side with the BJP, I can consider taking the NCP on board.”
The BBM leader said, “NCP chief Sharad Pawar is a secular leader but his party is not. Post 2014 Assembly election, when the Shiv Sena was not keen on backing the BJP, Mr. Pawar, buckling under pressure from MLAs, extended support to the BJP for a month.”
On Thursday evening, Mr. Ambedkar held a meeting with Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, and Manikrao Thakre to discuss the possible pact.
While neither Mr. Ambedkar nor Mr. Vikhe-Patil made a public statement about the meeting, sources within the Congress said the BBM leader made some ‘unreasonable’ demand of 17 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.
“This was the first meeting and nothing concrete was discussed. There will be more meetings. The Congress will have the final say on the number of seats to be left for the allies,” a Congress leader said.
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