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    Cracks within MVA surface over Prakash Ambedkar’s ‘siding with BJP’ jibe at Sharad Pawar

    Thackeray camp’s Sanjay Raut says Sena (UBT) does not support Prakash Ambedkar’s remarks; VBA chief says BJP is the real enemy

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    Mumbai: Soon after the Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray Shiv Sena faction (UBTS) sealed its pre-poll alliance with Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), the latter’s remark that Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar was ‘siding with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’ has opened up fissures within the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) of the NCP, UBTS and the Congress.

    Prakash Ambedkar’s remarks, while embarrassing the Thackeray-led Sena, has predictably evoked angry ripostes from the NCP. Speaking to newspersons here Prakash Ambedkar had alleged that even today, Sharad Pawar was in league with the BJP.

    On Friday, UBTS spokesperson, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut stressed that his party did not agree with the VBA chief’s remarks against Sharad Pawar. He further cautioned the VBA chief, remarking that Prakash Ambedkar “ought to use his words carefully” if he wished a strong coalition against the BJP to endure. Responding to Sanjay Raut’s comments against him, Prakash Ambedkar quipped that if Uddhav Thackeray gave him the same advice, only then would he follow it.

    Reacting to the VBA chiefs’ remarks aimed at the NCP chief, UBTS spokesperson remarked, “After preliminary talks, we (UBTS and VBA) may have forged an alliance. But it is not acceptable that Prakash Ambedkar makes such remarks against MVA leaders. Saying that Sharad Pawar belongs to the BJP is unbecoming as he (Pawar) has tried to stop the BJP every time by taking the lead in forming a coalition of like-minded parties against it.”

    Prakash Ambedkar remarked, “Three-four days after the swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar as chief minister and deputy chief minister in 2019, in an interview published in a newspaper, Ajit Pawar was quoted saying that he did not understand why people were blaming him. He said this was decided by our party. I was the first to go… This was decided before the 2019 Lok Sabha election.”

    The VBA chief further added that Ajit Pawar had apparently claimed that he would choose liberty over being in prison (if he went over to the BJP), thus hinting that the Pawar clan still sided with the BJP.

    Meanwhile, Prakash Ambedkar, speaking to newspersons in Latur, in a riposte attempted to take the sting off his remarks by stating he had not said anything against the MVA and that he had merely repeated Sharad Pawar’s history.

    Trying to defuse the political crisis, while arguing that his remarks were taken out of context, remarked, “I had myself said during the alliance with the Sena (UBTS) and VBA that we must let bygones be bygones (referring to past political tussles with Sharad Pawar). Old controversies and fights must be forgotten if one has to stop the country from turning into a dictatorship…we should identify who the enemy is.”

    Taking pot-shots at the BJP, Prakash Ambedkar said that the BJP would go to any lengths to trigger schisms and differences within other parties. “When they know they cannot win, it is their (BJP’s) policy to instigate fights among other parties,” added Prakash Ambedkar.

    He further added, “The alliance is currently with the Thackeray Sena and the VBA. Uddhav Thackeray is trying to convince the Congress and the NCP into taking the VBA within the MVA coalition. We hope that his efforts meet with success.”

    Prior to his alliance with the Thackeray-led Sena, Prakash Ambedkar had said that the NCP and the Congress had opposed inducting the VBA into the MVA alliance. Soon after the Sena (UBT)-VBA alliance was announced, NCP leaders Ajit Pawar and Jitendra Awhad had welcomed it.

    Welcoming the UBTS-VBA alliance, Jitendra Awhad had remarked “At a time when communal and casteist tensions are on the rise in the State, if Prakash Ambedkar says he will ally with like-minded parties, then it will only add strength (in the fight against BJP).”

    However, after Prakash Ambedkar’s remark against Sharad Pawar, Jitendra Awhad responded by remarking that no NCP member will take such remarks lying down against the NCP supremo. “MVA parties or their allies ought to speak with respect about Sharad Pawar…we will not tolerate anything for the sake of being in power,” warned Jitendra Awhad.

    Besides Prakash Ambedkar’s remarks against Sharad Pawar, it may be recalled that the NCP chief had offered to give unsolicited support to the BJP after the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly election, when the saffron party had failed to secure a simple majority.

    However, despite the BJP and the Shiv Sena contesting independently in 2014, the two saffron parties eventually formed the government before finally parting ways after the 2019 Assembly election.

    Meanwhile, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Nana Patole, in a veiled jibe at Prakash Ambedkar, said that there was “no relation between the MVA and Uddhav Thackeray’s alliance with the VBA. No proposal has come to us regarding taking the VBA along.”


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