Ambedkar to contest Lok Sabha polls from Akola, Solapur

Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar Wednesday said he will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from both Akola and Solapur constituencies as the candidate of his political front the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA).

He said the BVA's main fight is against the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance.

The BVA, a social coalition of Dalits and Muslims, has been formed by Ambedkar in alliance with the All India Majlis- e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), led by Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi.

"I am contesting from both the seats. There is no question of withdrawing from any of them. Since Akola is my hometown, there is no need to spend much time there.

"But Solapur is a new seat which needs to be given more time. Solapur is my political choice to contest the Lok Sabha election," Ambedkar told reporters here.

"Big leaders of Congress-NCP have already withdrawn from the elections. Muslims have started supporting the BVA as they feel the Congress-NCP combine has become weak," said Ambedkar, who won from Akola in 1998 and 1999.

The BVA's decision to contest the Lok Sabha polls on its own is likely to result in a triangular contest in several constituencies in the state, which has 48 parliamentary seats, the second highest after Uttar Pradesh (80).

The Congress-NCP and BJP-Shiv Sena combines are the other two major players in the poll fray.

In Solapur, Ambedkar is pitted against Sushilkumar Shinde (Congress) and Jai Siddheshwar Swami (BJP).

Solapur has about three lakh Dalit voters.

Ambedkar, meanwhile, termed leaders of opposition parties as "Manuwadis" (those who justify caste system) for "questioning" him over the use of a helicopter during the election campaigning.

"Leaders of Congress-NCP have Manuwadi ideology. They think how can a shudra like Prakash Ambedkar use a helicopter for election campaigning," Ambedkar said.

The BVA has hired the helicopter for Rs 80,000 a day and he would continue to use it for electioneering, he said.

An agreement has been signed with a helicopter company for an amount of Rs 16 lakh, said the former MP, the grandson of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar.

"It is being alleged that the BVA is being provided funds from outside for holding rallies. However, no one has been able to prove it. The funds are deposited in the party's account in the form of cheques and cash," Ambedkar said.

Congress-NCP leaders have alleged the BVA is contesting the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra to help the ruling BJP-Sena alliance by cutting into opposition parties' Dalit and Muslim votes.

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Ambedkar to contest Lok Sabha polls from Akola, Solapur

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