Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray today announced an alliance with Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) as he preps for the Mumbai civic polls, the first major election since his Shiv Sena split last year, bringing down his government.
Uddhav Thackeray was in talks for over two months with Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, who drafted India’s Constitution.
Announcing the alliance, Mr Thackeray said, “Today is 23rd January, the birth anniversary of Balasaheb Thackeray. I am satisfied and happy that several people of Maharashtra wanted us to come together. Prakash Ambedkar and I am here today to form an alliance.”
“My grandfather and Prakash Ambedkar’s grandfather were colleagues and they fought against the social issues at that time. Thackeray and Ambedkar have a history. Now their future generations are here to fight on the current issues of the country,” he added.
Mr Ambedkar said the alliance marks the “beginning of new politics” in the country. “We have been organising protests on social issues. Whether we win on social issues or not is in the hands of voters, but giving such people a seat to contest is in the hands of the political parties,” he said.
“As of now, it’s only the two of us. Congress hasn’t accepted the alliance yet. I hope Sharad Pawar will also join the alliance,” Mr Ambedkar added.
Earlier, a leader of Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena said, “Shiv Shakti and Bhim Shakti (the power of Shiva and Bhim) will come together ahead of the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) elections.”
Mr Thackeray and Mr Ambedkar shared a stage in November for the launch of prabodhankar.com, a website dedicated to Shiv Sena Founder Bal Thackeray’s father Prabodhankar Thackeray.
The alliance will take on the ruling Eknath Shinde-led Sena and BJP combine. Recently, the Shinde Sena announced a tie-up with a faction of the Republican Party of India (RPI). Another faction of the RPI led by Union minister Ramdas Athawale is an ally of the BJP.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) lost power in June after a coup led by his former aide, Eknath Shinde, who went on to form a new government with the BJP.
The Congress and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have continued their alliance with Uddhav Thackeray’s faction.
The two allies have not revealed yet whether they will be part of the Uddhav Thackeray-Prakash Ambedkar alliance for the BMC polls. Sharad Pawar said he did not want to get into the “alliance issue”.
Mr Ambedkar’s friction with the Congress dates back to the 2019 general election, when seat sharing talks between the two failed.
“I don’t have faith in the Congress. They are focusing on the 2029 (Lok Sabha) elections. Earlier, I had demanded 12 seats where the Congress had been losing polls continuously, but they didn’t give those,” Mr Ambedkar said.
“There are differences between the alliance partners of the MVA. They will be more visible after 10 days,” he added.