Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi chief Prakash Ambedkar on Tuesday announced that his party will support the Congress in seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra.

The state has a total of 48 Lok Sabha seats.

In a letter to Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Ambedkar said that the Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi will “lend its complete ground and strategic support to the candidates of your party on these seven seats of your choice”.

“I request you to enlist me the names of seven constituencies from the quota allotted to the Indian National Congress in the MVA [Maha Vikas Aghadi],” Ambedkar wrote.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi, the state-level Opposition alliance, was formed after the 2019 Assembly elections. The alliance mainly comprises Uddhav Thackeray’s faction of the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party group.

In January, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) MP Sanjay Raut announced the induction of the Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi into the alliance.

Ambedkar told Kharge that the alliance had held several meetings without inviting the Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi after the Election Commission announced the poll schedule.

“The Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and Nationalist Congress Party (Sharadchandra Pawar) have refused to listen to the Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi’s representatives in the numerous Maha Vikas Aghadi meetings and we have lost faith in both of these parties due to their unequal attitude towards VBA,” said Ambedkar.

He added: “Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi’s prime agenda remains the same – unseat the fascist, divisive, undemocratic Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh government.”

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the parent organisation of the BJP.

On Saturday, the Election Commission announced that the general elections in the 48 Lok Sabha seats of Maharashtra will be held in five phases.

Prakash Ambedkar’s criticism of MVA

This is not the first time Ambedkar has criticised the Maha Vikas Aghadi.

Soon after Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi’s addition to the bloc was announced in January, Ambedkar had said in a social media post that his party’s state vice president was “not given due respect” during a meeting with the alliance.

Ambedkar also said that his party was not informed by the All India Congress Committee “whether Nana Patole is having any authority to sign any letters for including VBA in MVA”.

Despite this, he said, the Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi will join the Opposition bloc as its aim was to defeat the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

On March 1, Ambedkar said that his party was ready to field 46 candidates if its alliance with the Maha Vikas Aghadi did not work out, reported PTI.

He also said that the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and Congress were engaged in a tussle over seat-sharing. “Our discussion will begin once they sort out the issue,” said Ambedkar.

The Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi chief last week reiterated his remarks. He also wrote to Kharge seeking direct talks for seat-sharing, reported The Hindu.

“The Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and the Congress are not willing to give up any of these seats,” he said. “This is just one part of the problem. There are five more seats on which Thackeray’s party, the Congress and the NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) are not willing to compromise.”