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Congress Yet To Forgive Ambedkar For Its 2019 Rout

Prakash Ambedkar’s persistence for over a year may have finally got him space within the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance in Maharashtra but he continues to find himself out of the I.N.D.I.A front, thanks to cold-shouldering from the Congress. The Congress has not forgiven Prakash Ambedkar for his role in their rout in the 2019 Maharashtra Lok Sabha polls when it got reduced to just one seat here. Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) 14 % vote share contributed in a big way for the defeat of 11 Congress and NCP candidates including the likes of former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde. Though VBA failed to win any seats in the state, it split the secular votes thereby helping the BJP and earning the tag of being the B team of the BJP. In the wake of this background, Ambedkar continues to be viewed with much scepticism within the MVA and it has taken much pushing from Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar to get him space on the seat-sharing table. Despite being known for his unpredictability and sharp tongue, he is being sought to avoid a split in the Dalit vote bank. No Dalit candidate won from Maharashtra in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, save for the sole seat reserved for the Scheduled Caste in Latur. At a stage when Maharashtra politics is witnessing peak mobilisation of the Maratha vote bank courtesy Manoj Jarange Patil’s agitation, Congress can least afford to let go a chunk of the 10% Dalit electorate from its alliance.