Pune: Eyeing 2019 general elections, Maharashtra dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar on Wednesday announced a new front and hinted at his willingness to join hands with "progressive" parties if they are ready to field 10 nominees from Muslim, Nomadic Tribes (NT), and Other Backward Class (OBC) communities.
Ambedkar, the grandson of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar who heads Bharip Bahujan Maha Sangh, said more than 50 organisations in Maharashtra think that they are "deprived" and are ready to fight the polls under the aegis of "Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi".
"In the run-up to the elections, we have formed this new front and ready to join hands with parties with progressive ideology if they are ready to field 10 candidates from Nomadic Tribes, Small OBC and Muslim community.
"If they are ready to accept our terms and conditions, we are ready to join hands with such parties," said Ambedkar while addressing a press conference in Pune.
He specifically mentioned giving tickets to candidates from Dhangar (shepherd) community and Mali, an OBC caste.
When asked whether he will join hands with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Dalit leader said the front's doors are open to all the progressive parties that are ready to accept our conditions.
"If the (front's) terms are conditions are not accepted by such progressive parties, we will fight all 48 seats on our own," he said.
Ambedkar, however, said NCP chief Sharad Pawar's few steps were not progressive and asked the NCP to improve on that part.
He said all the deprived and under-privileged classes in the country are coming together against the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP).
"All these communities have great anger against the BJP but they will not go with the Congress either. They are looking for some alternative and we are giving them that alternative," he said.
Against the backdrop of the 1 January Bhima Koregaon violence and arrests of some people with alleged Maoist links in connection with the Elgar Parishad and his name reportedly cropping up in some internal documents seized from an accused, Ambedkar said, "it is a complete political vendetta against me".
"Since I am galvanising the deprived and underprivileged class, they are trying to target me. PB Sawant and BG Kolse Patil are retired judges so police will not touch them. Since I am a common man, they are trying to target me but I will slap a notice on police if they call me for inquiry in the case," he said.
Ambedkar, Sawant and Kolse-Patil were present at the Elgar Parishad, held at Shaniwarwada on 31 December 2017.
It is alleged that some speakers had made provocative speeches at the event that led to the caste clashes in Bhima-Koregaon the next day.
Raising questions over the seizure of alleged documents, he said the whole case is going to backfire on police.
He alleged that police have deviated from the core case.
Talking about the killings of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi, and journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, Ambedkar said police know the identity of the masterminds.
"Just because they are connected to the ruling parties, they are not arresting them. Sensing the changing winds of politics and power, police have arrested one person but they are not touching the main perpetrator," he said.
Updated Date: Jun 21, 2018 12:21:22 IST