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Cong feels Ambedkar not keen on being part of grand-alliance

The Maharashtra Congress, which has been trying to persuade Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar to join the anti-BJP coalition, says it was disappointed with his approach as he was not showing any flexibility and keenness for a tie-up.

The Congress said Ambedkar was adamant that the party should give an action plan in writing on bringing the RSS in the constitutional framework.

The Congress and NCP have earlier said they were ready to give four seats to Ambedkar. However, the latter has announced candidates for 12 Lok Sabha seats.

Interestingly, the Dalit leader, grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar, has not announced his own candidature from Akola, a Lok Sabha seat he had earlier represented.

The Congress on Friday expressed surprise that he was yet to announce the candidate from Akola.

“We agree there has to be a common minimum programme. But Ambedkar’s insistence that the Congress gives an action plan in writing on how to curb parallel administration run by the RSS in the government is laughable,” a Congress source said on Friday.

“Congress will be in a position to give an action plan or take steps in that direction only if we are in the government. Now, focus has to be on how to win the election by ensuring there is no division of votes. Ambedkar’s stand is a sign that he is not keen on alliance. We are disappointed with his approach,” the source added.

The state leadership has become cautious about Ambedkar’s moves and feels that his tactic of not announcing a candidate in Akola so far, is due to his uncertainty of his prospects in Akola.

“There are speculations that he may not contest the Akola seat, where he had finished third last time,” the source said.

“Since the Congress has become cautious, the party is preparing to field a new face in Akola, who will give a tough fight to sitting BJP MP Sanjay Dhotre and Ambedkar if he decides to contest on his own or field his nominee. As far as the Congress is concerned, it will wait for Ambedkar to make his next move. We don’t want a message to go that we were not accommodating,” the Congress insider said.

Congress and NCP have said they were ready to give four seats to Ambedkar in order to avoid division of votes.

Talking to agencies, Ambedkar said he has announced candidates in 12 constituencies – Buldhana, Nanded, Yavatmal, Madha, Amravati, Latur, Satara, Sangli, Baramati, Pune, Hatkanagale and Nashik.

“We had sought 12 seats where Congress didn’t have candidates to field or where they have been consistently losing. The number of seats was immaterial. We wanted an action plan from the Congress regarding bringing the RSS within the constitutional framework. If there is no discussion on this, we are not going with the Congress,” Ambedkar said.

State Congress chief Ashok Chavan said Ambedkar was offered four seats as against his demand for 12 seats.

“As far as his other demand of restricting the RSS is concerned, Congress is supportive of it. We too are against that ideology. Now, it is up to Ambedkar to respond,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Congress is expected to begin the process of finalising its first list of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections next week.

The list will be announced later. The first list will include constituencies where there is no dispute over choice of candidates, the party insiders said.

Party sources told agencies that Wednesday’s meeting between NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Congress president Rahul Gandhi was aimed at discussing the issue of joint campaigning.

Accordingly, both the parties will have a joint rally in Nanded and later in Parli (in Beed district) next week. Sharad Pawar and AICC general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge are scheduled to address the two rallies along with the state leaders.

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