Mumbai : Irked over being offered a paltry number of seats, the Hyderabad-based All India Majlis Ittehadul-e-Muslimeen (AIMIM) on Friday unilaterally snapped its six-month old alliance with the Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA).
“We respect and honour Prakash Ambedkar and wish him the best of luck. Irrespective of the alliance, we shall continue to take up the cause of the oppressed classes and weaker sections of society,” AIMIM Aurangabad MP and senior leader Syed Imtiaz Jaleel told IANS.
He cited the primary reason for snapping of ties between AIMIM-VBA – which fought the 2019 Lok Sabha elections jointly – as the “unjustified and unacceptable” share of seats offered by VBA to the AIMIM, a measly eight out of 288 seats in the state assembly.
The VBA was considered an unprecedented and revolutionary experiment in Maharashtra politics of the backward classes and minorities joining hands to combat the growing influence of so-called ‘Hindutva’ forces in the state.
The development, with both Ambedkar and Owaisi terming each other as ‘brother’, gave jitters to all other mainstream parties in the ruling and opposition combines, though finally the VBA barely made a dent in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Jaleel added that despite prolonged negotiations over several rounds of talks in the past two months, the two parties could not reach a comfortable and respectable figure of seat distribution.
“The VBA conveyed it could allot only eight seats out of the 288 assembly seats to AIMIM as alliance partner. This is simply unacceptable and unjustified. Moreover, it does not even include the sitting AIMIM seat of Aurangabad Central constituency,” a peeved Jaleel added.
After the last meeting held on Thursday (Sep 5) in Pune, Ambedkar sent an email to AIMIM chief Asasuddin Owaisi that the VBA would spare only eight seats to the AIMIM.
Jaleel pointed out that the AIMIM had contested 24 seats in the 2014 assembly polls and won two – Aurangabad Central and Byculla (Mumbai), and stood second or third on at least nine other seats.
Moreover, the AIMIM has around 150 corporators in civic bodies across Maharashtra including 26 in Aurangabad Municipal Corporation alone, where the party’s Leader of Opposition is Sarita A. Borde and Group Leader is Gangadhar Dhage, both hailing from the SC category.
In the last Lok Sabha, the AIMIM candidate, Jaleel, won the Aurangabad seat, defeating Shiv Sena strongman Chandrakant Khaire.
In fact, it was the only seat the VBA alliance won, and ironically, Ambedkar lost in both Akola and Solapur constituencies where he contested in the ‘second BJP-wave’ in the country.
Jaleel said in view of AIMIM’s existing and growing strength in Maharashtra, the VBA offer was totally unacceptable and hence it had decided to sever its ties.
Preparing to make the political plunge independently, the AIMIM will soon start interviewing prospective candidates for the October assembly polls.
Though party leaders are tight-lipped over the number of candidates it will put up, they hinted contesting around 45-50 seats, depending on the party’s strength in different areas.