No encouragement from MVA as yet about prospective alliance for civic polls, says VBA chief Prakash Ambedkar
Mumbai: Eyebrows were raised in the political circles as Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Wednesday met with Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) chief Prakash Ambedkar, triggering off speculation ahead of the crucial civic polls in Maharashtra.
Following a 45-minute meet at ‘Rajagruha’ – Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s house in Dadar, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde shrugged-off suggestions of the meeting with the VBA chief of being ‘political’ in nature and clarified it was merely a “courtesy call.”
Prakash Ambedkar – the grandson of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and a former MP – on his part remarked that the VBA would never ally with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or any other party allied to the BJP.
Speaking to newspersons after the meeting, the Chief Minister remarked, “It was purely a courtesy meeting. Do not be under any misperception that there was anything political in it nor is it the beginning of any altered political equation in the State. There is no need to read anything of that nature into it.”
Stating that his visit to ‘Rajagruha’ was “immensely satisfying”, Eknath Shinde promised the historical heritage of the building would be conserved and nurtured in the future.
CM Shinde further remarked, “The place where Babasaheb once lived is a historical monument. Visiting this historical building and inspecting the rare items associated with Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar – his books, photographs, the special issue of the newspaper begun by him, his study room – all gave me immense satisfaction. The objects in this room are still in the same condition.”
The CM also visited the site of the proposed memorial to Dr. B R Ambedkar, which is to come up at the Indu Mills compound area in Dadar next year. The site is to host a gigantic 450 ft statue of the architect of the Indian Constitution.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s meeting with Prakash Ambedkar comes ahead of another event on November 20 where the VBA chief is expected to share the dais with former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
CM Shinde’s meeting with the VBA chief has triggered speculation as both the opposition ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ (MVA) coalition of the Thackeray-led Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress as well as the ruling BJP-Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena (BSS) coalition on the lookout for political allies prior to the civic polls.
When questioned regarding a possible alliance with the MVA, Prakash Ambedkar clarified that while he had received no response as yet from the MVA over a possible alliance, the VBA would never ally with the BJP or any other party that was already allied to the BJP (read Shinde-led BSS faction).
Replying to further queries he said, “The question is that if the MVA parties are still together, then how will VBA fit in there. The manner in which (Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee – MPCC chief) Nana Patole has been talking of the Congress contesting independently begs clarification on the nature of the MVA alliance.”
“Does it mean that the VBA will have to approach each of the three MVA parties separately to discuss an alliance?” questioned Prakash Ambedkar. He added that he had received “no encouragement” from the MVA’s side regarding a prospective alliance. He further said that if the alliance with the MVA did not work out, then the VBA had no recourse but to go it alone.