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Manoj Jarange should be united Opposition’s candidate for Jalna Lok Sabha seat: VBA

Updated on: 29 February,2024 07:18 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore |

Prakash Ambedkar-led party plans to contest 27 seats; no compromise on some seats but will negotiate for others

Manoj Jarange should be united Opposition’s candidate for Jalna Lok Sabha seat: VBA

Manoj Jarange Patil, Maratha quota activist; (right) Prakash Ambedkar, president, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi. Pic/Atul Kamble

Key Highlights

  1. VBA has suggested that Manoj Jarange be declared as united opposition’s LS candidate
  2. VBA also submitted a list of 27 seats that it had been preparing to contest
  3. The party claimed that it had strength in 27 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats

The Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) has suggested that the Maratha activist Manoj Jarange Patil be declared as the united opposition’s Lok Sabha candidate from Jalna in Marathwada, currently an epicentre of the Maratha quota protest.

VBA, which was invited to talk seat-sharing with MVA partners on Wednesday, also submitted a list of 27 seats that it had been preparing to contest. The party claimed that it had strength in 27 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, and it had been preparing for the elections since last year.

Considering a fierce tussle between the MVA partners, the Shiv Sena (UBT), Nationalist Congress Party-Sharad Pawar and the Congress, the prospective fourth partner’s demand is seen as unreasonable. “Our demand is not unreasonable. We have solid strength in 27 constituencies. However, we are ready to negotiate for some segments, but won’t compromise over certain seats,” said VBA representative Dhairyavardhan Pundkar.

VBA’s suggestion for Jarange’s candidature was seen as a move to derive support from the Maratha community, which has been fighting for quota under the Jalna activist’s leadership.

Also Read: Maratha quota stir: Who’s behind Manoj Jarange? SIT will investigate

Pundkar said VBA hadn’t asked for Jarange’s permission before suggesting his name as an I.N.D.I.A/MVA bloc candidate. “We think the Parliament would be the best place for him to demand a quota,” he added.

‘Priority is to get quota’

Jarange said politics wasn’t his immediate agenda, but he would discuss the offer with his community. “Prakash Ambedkar has always been with us and supported my agitation. I thank him for the gesture. My priority is to get my community a quota,” he said from Antarwali Sarathi.

BJP has been winning the Jalna Lok Sabha for many terms. Union Minister of State for Railways Raosaheb Danve is the current MP.

Accused of being a puppet of the Opposition parties, Jarange has run into the BJP leadership over the allegations he had made against DCM Devendra Fadnavis. The state government has ordered an SIT probe against the activist who has continued the protest despite the government’s decision to give Marathas an independent 10 per cent quota in education and jobs. Jarange has been pressing for a share in the OBC quota, insisting that the independent quota would not stand legal scrutiny in court.

Shiv Sena (UBT) and VBA already have a pre-poll pact, but the other MVA partners were reluctant to induct the Ambedkar-led outfit, which is known for driving a hard bargain. In 2019, VBA was accused of being the BJP’s team B because of the votes divided to benefit the ruling party. This time around, efforts are being made to reach out to VBA to avoid the division of votes. Ambedkar, who had polled a good count, had lost in two places.

Among the 27 seats demanded, VBA wants a good share in Vidarbha, Marathwada, Western Maharashtra and Mumbai. It is said Wednesday’s was the last meeting at the state level and all further decisions would be taken by the top leadership.

No. of Lok Sabha seats in state

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