We need your support. Know More

Maharashtra: Dalit Ambedkarite Groups Announce Support for Opposition Coalition

Apr 24, 2024
This political move isolates Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi that had announced a decision on April 7 to fight 36 seats independently in Maharashtra.

An intense conclave of over four dozen Dalit Ambedkarite (Buddhist) organisations on Monday, April 22 has eschewed any vote division in the state and declared that the 18th Lok Sabha Election was a fight to Save the Constitution and Democracy itself! Announcing the formation of the united Progressive Republican Party at the same meet, these veteran activists and organisations have declared their open support to the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray)’s Maha Vikas Aghadi in the next four phase of polls in the state. After the authoritarian forces are defeated, the newly formed PRP will renew its commitment to the ideals of Dr Ambedkar’s original Republican Party, the press note announced.

Significantly, this decisive political move isolates Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) that had announced a decision on April 7 to fight 36 seats independently in Maharashtra. That there is obvious discontent even among VBA cadres over Ambedkar’s go-it-alone decision is evident from developments in the Solapur on April 22. The VBA candidate Rahul Gaikwad released video announcing withdrawal of his candidature from Solapur Lok Sabha seat. He said his candidature can result victory of BJP so he does not want to be responsible for this therefore decided to rescind his nominations to save Babasaheb’s Constitution.

Over to the Progressive Republican Party. The wordings of the short and pithy press release are relevant. They recognise Maharashtra’s socio-political reality when they say, “No Ambedkarite, Bahujan Party is presently in the position to win seats on its own in the state (Maharashtra).” Hence, backed by the understanding that Modi and his BJP cannot be defeated in isolation, the Dalit Buddhist Community has taken a decision to prevent its decisive vote from being divided and ensuring that the strongest candidates of the Mahavikas Aghadi achieve victory! This Appeal has been made by veteran Panther-Republican leader Shyamdada Gaikwad. He addressed the Press Conference at the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh on Monday.

Present at this Press Conference were Senior Panther leader Sayaji Waghmare, former IPS officer Sudhakar Suradkar, Sanjay Aparanti, and senior journalist Sunil Khobaragade. Addressing the Press Conference collectively, the senior Dalit leaders have also made a Call Appeal for the complete Defeat the candidates of the BJP Mahayuti (Grand Alliance) while addressing the press conference.

“This Lok Sabha election is not about proving the political worth or value of the Buddhist Community in the state. This Election, poses a a grave challenge to Save the country’s Constitution and Democracy itself. Stopping Modi and his BJP is the need of the hour,” firmly stated Shyamdada Gaikwad.

Recognising the role of the Dalit Buddhist vote in the past, the gathering recognised that this was not the time to fight such a crucial election in factions. In 1990, it was the united Republican Party that prevented the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance from coming to power. Also, after the Dalit massacre in Ghatkopar’s Ramabai Colony in 1999, that alliance was also removed from power. Gaikwad, Waghmare, Suradkar, Aparanti, Khobragade mentioned this history, speaking in one voice.

Before the first phase of voting in Vidarbha, 80 organizations had created public awareness under the leadership of great thinker Dr. Yashwant Manohar and Dr. Sukhdev Thorat. These organisations have also declared their support to the PRP to defeat BJP.

Progressive Republican Party post polls

After achieving the goal of defeating the BJP in the Assembly elections in this Lok Sabha election, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar will see the formation of the real Republican Party of which he had imagined. For this we have announced the launch of the Progressive Republican Party. This announcement was also made by Shyamdada Gaekwad in a press conference.

Conclave of four hours

An intense four-hours long meeting of Republican-Ambedkarist activists had been called before the press conference lasted for four hours at Ballard Estate, Mumbai. Ambedkarite workers from Mumbai, Thane district, Navi Mumbai, Nashik had attended this meeting on Monday, January 22. Panther leader Suresh Kedare, Prof. M. A. Pawar, Dr. Sampath Sakpal, Adv. Kiran Channe, Adv. Rajay Gaikwad, Arvind Sontakke, Raju Rote, Satish Dongre, Chandrakant Jagtap, Gunaji Bansode, Jaywant Hire, Prakash Hiwale, Senior Journalist Diwakar Shejwal, Mahendra Pandagale, Ramesh Mokal, Ramesh Chakre, Sunil Kadam, Hemant Mokal, Kailas Sarode, Ashwajit Sonawane, Swapnil Kadam, Tukaram Mane, Rahul Gaikwad, Prakash Sonawane, Popat Adhangale, V. D. Mhetre, Praveen Patil, Hiraman Gaikwad, Gautam Sangle, Vijay Bagul, Ashwin Kamble, Chhabu Ghuge, Sudhakar Barve and other activists were present.

The press note has been issued by Mahendra Pandagale, now office secretary of the Progressive Republican Party.

On April 17, in a detailed Three Table Analysis, SabrangIndia has analysed whether or not the Vikas Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) would tilt any votes and in which seats in the state. After much shadowboxing and manoeuvres, Ambedkar had predictably announced his decision to go it alone in Maharashtra!

Announcing its list of 36 seats on April 12, the VBA had however left options open by declaring support for the Congress in Nagpur and Kolhapur and the NCP (Sharad Pawar) in Baramati. In Kolhapur, the INC is fighting this election with the descendant of Sahu Maharaj, Chhatrapati Sahu Maharaj in the prestigious contest. In Solapur, where Rahul Gaikwad of VBA withdrew his candidature only yesterday, Praniti Shinde from the INC is in the contest.

The Three Table Analysis dealt with 2019 figures and detailed how many votes the VBA had pulled in the 35 seats that it had contested in 2019. These figures could have some implications for the upcoming poll results, if and only if the Dalit segments and partial Muslim base stays, again, this time with the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA).

This detailed analysis may be read here.

Maharashtra’s 48 seats have been spread over five of the seven phases of the polls this time, cynics say with a particular design by the ruling Modi regime, who is ably assisted by a compliant Election Commission of India (ECI).

While five seats in Vidharbha will go to the polls on April 19 (Ramtek, Nagpur, Bhandara-Gondiya, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Chandrapur), another eight seats from Vidharbha and Marathwada vote on April 26 (Buldanha, Akola, Amravati, Wardha, Yavatmal-Washim, Hingoli, Nanded, Parbhani). Thereafter 11 of the balance 35 seats vote on May 7 (Raigad, Baramati, Osmanabad, Latur, Solapur, Madha, Sangli, Satara, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Kolhapur, Hatkanangle), another 11 seats (Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Raver, Jalna, Aurangabad, Maval, Pune, Shirur, Ahmednagar, Shirdi, Beed) and finally 13 seats go to the polls on the last day of polling in the state on May 20. These are Dhule, Dindori, Nashik, Palghar, Bhiwandi, Kalyan, Thane, Mumbai-North, Mumbai North-West, Mumbai North-East, Mumbai North-Central, Mumbai South-Central and Mumbai-South. Two more phases of polling take place in other parts of the country on May 25 and June 1, before the day of counting on June 4, 2024.

SabrangIndia, with the help of an expert, analysed the voter share of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, in many of the seats where the VBA had contested, also independently in 2019. The table below details all of these. The table indicates how many total votes were polled, how many the VBA polled and the percentage of the votes that the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi polled of the votes polled and the total votes in that seat.

For instance, in the three seats in the first phase of voting where the VBA is contesting this time in 2024, if we analyse 2019 figures the VBA garnered a significant 9.75 per cent of the total polled votes in Gadchiroli Chimur which were 1142698. This number was however 7.04 % of the total votes in that constituency which were then at 1581366, still a significant number. In the Chandrapur Parliamentary Constituency, VBA polled a high 9.05 % of the polled votes and 5.86 % of the total votes (which stood in 2019 at 1910188) while in Bhandara-Gondiya it pulled in less support with 3.68% of the polled votes and 2.53 % of the total votes (which were 1811556).

It is now left to be seen how this open chasm among Ambedkarite Buddhist groups plays out in the next four phases of polls in the state.

This article was originally published on SabrangIndia.

Make a contribution to Independent Journalism