Prakash Ambedkar slams Congress for ‘soft Hindutva’, but keeps doors open for alliance
Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar, while launching an attack on the Congress on Saturday, said he is still open for an alliance with the party to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena combine if it ‘reverts to its secular ideology’. He also asserted that he was ready to contest the polls along with his alliance partner, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), led by Asaduddin Owaisi.
Addressing a mega rally at Shivaji Park on Saturday, Ambedkar, who recently floated the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) outfit, said the stalemate with Congress was not owing to the number of seats offered by the party. “It is not the issue of the number of seats they have offered. We have ideological differences with the Congress. Currently, the Congress is practising soft Hindutva, which we oppose. We want the Congress to revert to its secular ideology,” said Ambedkar, adding, “Our doors are still open and we will wait till the last moment for an alliance.”
Ambedkar’s statement comes in the wake of the fact that he has been offered four seats by the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance. However, he has been demanding 12 seats, which the Congress-NCP is unlikely to accept. Meanwhile, the VBA floated by him has shored up support from a section of the OBCs, Dalits and Muslims and if he contests the polls solo, the Opposition’s votes will get split. Many have even accused Ambedkar of helping the BJP.
However, on Saturday, Ambedkar, who is the grandson of Dr BR Ambedkar — the architect of the Constitution—was critical of both the Congress-NCP and BJP-Sena alliances. “They are two sides of the same coin…In the past 70 years, the Congress has not done anything for depressed classes,” he said. He said if his front comes to power, he would make education free, and also start a parallel banking system to ensure loans are available easily for the labour class and small traders.
Meanwhile, Owaisi, who was also present at the rally, appealed to people to vote for the VBA. “The people of Maharashtra have got an alternative in the form of Ambedkar. They should choose him.” The AIMIM chief also held Pakistan responsible for the Pulwama attack, but blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the “political failure” to prevent it. He also asked Pakistan PM to not bother about Indian Muslims.