Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar on Tuesday said his political front will contest all the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, a development which comes as a jolt to efforts of the Congress and NCP to forge a ‘grand alliance’ against the BJP.
Making the announcement in Akola district, located around 590 km from Mumbai, Mr Ambedkar said no further talks would be held with the Congress to join the anti-BJP coalition.
“Several proposals were made for forging an alliance with the Congress but there hit a roadblock. We cannot negotiate further with the Congress leadership,” he told reporters.
Asked how many seats his Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi would contest, he said, “We have already announced candidates on 22 seats and will declare the remaining names soon. We will contest 48 seats in Maharashtra.”
Mr Ambedkar is likely to contest from Solapur Lok Sabha seat against senior Congress leader and former Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.
BJP’s Sharad Bansode defeated Shinde in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll from Solapur.
Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of the architect of Indian Constitution Dr B R Ambedkar, is founder of the Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh.
He forged an alliance earlier with Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) in Maharashtra and has been holding rallies across state.
The consolidation of Dalit and Muslims votes in somepockets, especially in the Vidarbha region, had prompted the Congress and NCP to invite Ambedkar to join their ‘grand alliance’ against the BJP-led NDA.