Raj Thackeray misses, Ambedkar impacts Congress-NCP prospects in Maharashtra

The Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) appears to have played an instrumental role in defeating the Opposition alliance. On the other hand, Raj Thackeray-led MNS failed to make any impact on poll results.
MNS Cheif Raj Thackeray(HT File)
MNS Cheif Raj Thackeray(HT File)
Updated on May 24, 2019 03:47 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By, Mumbai

With the rout of the Opposition’s alliance in Maharashtra led by the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), also named as the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA), it is now clear that the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) failed to make any impact on poll results as both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena succeeded in maintaining the almost the same number of seats they have got in 2014.

In contrast, the Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) appears to have played an instrumental role in defeating the Opposition alliance. The poll result clearly indicates that VBA has directly impacted in at least seven Lok Sabha seats, where the margin by which the opposition candidates lost was more than the votes polled by the VBA.

The seats are Nanded, Solapur, Parbhani, Buldhana, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Hatkanangle and Sangli. Significantly, the Congress was sure of winning two seats, but lost owing to votes taken by the VBA. Former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde lost from Nanded and Solapur as the VBA candidates polled a significant number of votes.

As Congress ally Swabhimani Paksha lost two seats, the VBA polled significant number of votes in both the constituencies. Swabhimani Paksh (SP) leader Raju Shetti lost in Hatkanangle and its another candidate, Vishal Patil, lost in Sangli.

VBA also won only Aurangabad Lok Sabha seat, where its candidate, Imtiyaz Jaleel, defeated four-term sitting MP Chandrakant Khaire.

Congress-NCP leaders alleged that Ambedkar was adamant on his stance and was working at the behest of the ruling alliance. Ambedkar, however, refused to take the blame saying that the Congress and NCP didn’t accept his demands and thus were to be blamed for the results.

“VBA has badly impacted our poll prospects. The dissident groups were provided a platform and knowingly or unknowingly they caught in the trap planned against us for the polls,” said Nawab Malik, NCP spokesperson.

“The Congress had conceded defeat even before the commencement of the polls. In addition, all we asked was 12 seats, which they have been losing from the last two elections. However, they rejected my demand. They did not even have candidates in those seats and still fielded some people and see the result,” said Ambedkar.

He accused the Congress of not being serious of alliances. “They were not able to stitch new alliances and this has been their story in many states,” he said adding, “The Congress just wanted to use and throw us and hence we insisted on the alliance on our terms.”

Prakash Bal, political analyst, felt that there could not be any arrangement between Congress-NCP and VBA as Ambedkar already had a deal with BJP. “He performed his role perfectly as a result of which Congress-NCP got badly defeated.

Bal said the same formula will be used for the upcoming state Assembly elections as well. “Results of the state polls may not be the same, but it will definitely have an impact and Opposition may have to face the heat,” he said.

Prof Harshwardhan Pundkar, a close aide of Ambedkar, said they were not contesting to defeat Opposition parties. “It will be incorrect to say that we were contesting to defeat Congress and NCP candidates. We don’t calculate the results with the number of seats. Our main objective was state Assembly elections and we believe that we are on the right path,” he said.

On the other hand, MNS chief Raj Thackeray had given a clarion call for a Modi-mukt Bharat and had extensively campaigned against Modi and BJP.

Considering Thackeray’s popularity, it was assumed that the BJP-Sena combine will be impacted by his campaign, but results shows a different picture. The MNS has influence in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and in areas of Pune and Nashik, but at none of the places were the Congress, NCP and Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) candidate that was contesting Palghar seat, do anything.

MNS leaders refused to react on the poll results. Senior MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar said that he will react only after having a review meeting. The only reaction from the MNS chief was, “Beyond rationale”, which he tweeted on his twitter handle. Thackeray has carried out a total of ten public rallies in different areas of the state.

Another political analyst, Pratap Aasbe, said that Raj Thackeray cannot be blamed for loss of Congress and NCP as he played his role, but Opposition parties failed to put up an alternative narrative before the people. “Congress was supposed to make a nation-wide alliance with other parties and give an alternative to the people, which they failed. While people will agree with what Raj Thackeray was saying in his speeches, they also used to ask about alternative. I believe Thackeray will benefit from his stance in the Assembly elections,” Aasbe said.

With inputs from Naresh Kamath


    Faisal is with the political team and covers state administration and state politics. He also covers NCP.

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