How vote splitting by VBA shapes Maharashtra election outcomes

Prakash Ambedkar's VBA splits the vote, fragments Opposition, facilitating Wins for BJP and Shiv Sena (Shinde Faction)
Image: PTI

The 2024 Maharashtra Lok Sabha elections demonstrated some impact of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) in fragmenting the anti-BJP and anti-Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) vote base. VBA declared support for the Congress in Nagpur and Kolhapur and the NCP (Sharad Pawar) in Baramati but still contested independently in 36 seats totally. Led by Prakash Ambedkar, the VBA’s decision to contest independently in key constituencies resulted in a substantial split of opposition votes, which in several cases enabled BJP and Shinde faction victories.

In 2019, the VBA’s strategy of contesting independently had yielded significant vote shares in various constituencies. For example, in Gadchiroli-Chimur, the VBA secured 9.75% of the polled votes, which was 7.04% of the total votes. Similarly, in Chandrapur, they garnered 9.05% of the polled votes and 5.86% of the total votes. However, in Bhandara-Gondiya, their influence was lower, with 3.68% of the polled votes and 2.53% of the total votes. These figures indicate that the VBA had a notable presence in 2019, influencing the electoral outcomes in several constituencies.

For a more in-depth analysis of VBA’s strategy during the 2019 election, read Maharashtra: Three Tables that ask whether Prakash Ambedkar’s VBA will tilt the 2024 balance

A closer look at the election results from six pivotal constituencies this time round—Akola, Aurangabad, Buldhana, Hatkanangale, Mumbai North West, and Palghar—provides insight into the extent of this impact. In Akola, ironically, this tendency to pay spoiler cost Prakash Ambedkar his own seat in Parliament.

Akola Constituency

  • Winning Candidate: Anup Sanjay Dhotre (BJP) – 457,030 votes
  • Runner-Up: Abhay Kashinath Patil (INC) – 416,404 votes
  • VBA Candidate: Prakash Yashwant Ambedkar – 276,747 votes

Anup Sanjay Dhotre of the BJP defeated Abhay Kashinath Patil of the Congress by a margin of 40,626 votes in Akola. Prakash Yashwant Ambedkar, the VBA candidate, received a noteworthy 276,747 votes. Consolidating the votes cast for VBA with the Congress votes might have raised the combined total over the BJP’s total and shifted the election results in the Congress’s favour. This demonstrates unequivocally how the VBA divided the anti-BJP vote.

Aurangabad Constituency

  • Winning Candidate: Bhumare Sandipanrao Asaram (Shiv Sena, Eknath Shinde faction) – 476,130 votes
  • Runner-Up: Imtiaz Jaleel Syed (AIMIM) – 341,480 votes
  • VBA Candidate: Afsar Khan Yaseen Kha – 69,266 votes

Bhumare Sandipanrao Asaram of the Shiv Sena, (Eknath Shinde faction) beat Imtiaz Jaleel Syed of the AIMIM by 134,650 votes in Aurangabad. The 69,266 votes that VBA’s Afsar Khan Yaseen Kha received were noteworthy despite the wide margin. The difference may have been smaller if these votes had been aimed towards AIMIM, demonstrating the VBA’s disruptive influence on the consolidation of opposition votes.

Buldhana Constituency

  • Winning Candidate: Jadhav Prataprao Ganpatrao (Shiv Sena – Shinde) – 349,867 votes
  • Runner-Up: Narendra Dagdu Khedekar (Shiv Sena – UBT) – 320,388 votes
  • VBA Candidate: Vasantrao Rajaram Magar – 98,441 votes

Jadhav Prataprao Ganpatrao of the Shinde faction defeated Narendra Dagdu Khedekar of the Uddhav faction by a narrow margin of 29,479 votes in the Buldhana constituency. Vasantrao Rajaram Magar of the VBA received 98,441 votes. This significant vote share demonstrates how VBA helped the Shinde group win by dividing the opposing votes. 

Hatkanangale Constituency

  • Winning Candidate: Dhairyasheel Sambhajirao Mane (Shiv Sena – Shinde) – 520,190 votes
  • Runner-Up: Satyajeet Babasaheb Patil Sarudkar (Shiv Sena – UBT) – 506,764 votes
  • VBA Candidate:C. Patil Dadgonda – 32,696 votes

At Hatkanangale, Dhairyasheel Sambhajirao Mane of the Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) defeated Satyajeet Babasaheb Patil Sarudkar of the Uddhav faction by a mere 13,426 votes. In this close contest, VBA’s D.C. Patil Dadgonda garnered 32,696 votes, which further demonstrated the party’s spoiler impact by diverting votes from the Uddhav group.

Mumbai North West Constituency

  • Winning Candidate: Ravindra Dattaram Waikar (Shiv Sena – Shinde) – 452,644 votes
  • Runner-Up: Amol Gajanan Kirtikar (Shiv Sena – UBT) – 452,596 votes
  • VBA Candidate: Parmeshwar Ashok Ranshur – 10,052 votes

In a very close race in Mumbai North West, Ravindra Dattaram Waikar of the Shinde faction defeated Amol Gajanan Kirtikar of the Uddhav faction by just 48 votes. With 10,052 votes, Parmeshwar Ashok Ranshur of the VBA played a significant role in this result, further splitting the opposition vote and assisting the Shinde group in an indirect manner.

NOTA another factor

Of the 75,262 NOTA (none of the above) votes cast in the six Mumbai constituencies, the highest number was polled in Mumbai North-West, which had 15,161 such votes. However, Mumbai South constituency had the largest percentage of total polled votes, at 1.74%, followed by South Central with 1.7%.
In Mumbai North-West, these votes may have made a difference to the outcome of the electoral battle: the winning margin was just 48 votes. In 2019, too, the constituency had seen the highest number of NOTA votes, casting 18,225 of a total of 82,265 such votes in the city. This year, some of the highest NOTA votes were in constituencies with a direct contest between the two Senas. Apart from Northwest, Mumbai South-Central had 13,423 NOTA votes (1.7% of polled votes) and Mumbai South had 13,411 (1.74% of polled votes). Mumbai North, where BJP’s Piyush Goyal had defeated Congress’s Bhushan Patil, had 13,346 NOTA votes (1.29% of polled votes). Mumbai North-East followed with 10,173 (1.1% of polled votes) and then North Central with 9,749 (1.08% of polled votes).—Vijay V Singh

Palghar Constituency

  • Winning Candidate: Hemant Vishnu Savara (BJP) – 601,244 votes
  • Runner-Up: Bharti Bharat Kamdi (Shiv Sena – UBT) – 417,938 votes
  • Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi Candidate: Rajesh Raghunath Patil (BVA) – 254,517 votes

Dr. Hemant Vishnu Savara of the BJP defeated Bharti Bharat Kamdi of the Uddhav Thackeray Shiv Sena in Palghar by a wide majority of 183,306 votes. Even though Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi (not the VBA) candidate Rajesh Raghunath Patil received 254,517 votes, this case highlights the effect of vote-splitting in favour of BJP. This significant number of votes for a non-BJP candidate highlights how the anti-BJP vote’s split might significantly change the outcome of the election.


The 2024 Maharashtra Lok Sabha elections highlight the pivotal role of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) in splitting the anti-BJP and anti-Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) vote base. In several key constituencies, the VBA’s now reduced, yet not insignificant, vote shares directly influenced the election results, often aiding BJP and Shinde faction victories by fragmenting the opposition votes. This pattern underscores the strategic impact smaller parties can have in closely contested elections, often acting as spoilers that prevent a consolidated opposition front.

A repeat of the 2019 election strategy?

The political strategy of the VBA in Maharashtra has indeed been repeated in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, mirroring the approach taken in 2019. However, this time, the potential damage from vote splitting appears somewhat contained due to the efforts of the Progressive Republican Party (PRP) and the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).

In the 2019 elections, the VBA, led by Prakash Ambedkar, contested independently across various constituencies in Maharashtra. This decision led to significant vote shares for the VBA in several key areas, effectively splitting the anti-BJP vote and contributing to the victories of BJP and its allies. In the lead-up to the 2024 elections, after Prakash Ambedkar announced that the VBA would again contest independently in key constituencies, concerns were raised among opposition parties about a repeat of the 2019 scenario, where vote splitting could benefit the BJP and the Shiv Sena, and that is exactly what happened.

PRP formed in April 2022

A significant development ahead of the 2024 elections was the declaration of support for the MVA by over four dozen Dalit Ambedkarite organizations, isolating Prakash Ambedkar’s VBA. On April 22, 2024, these organizations, along with the newly formed the Progressive Republican Party (PRP), announced their backing for the MVA during a press conference. The PRP called for Dalit organizations to unite behind the MVA, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding the Constitution and democracy, and preventing vote division.

The PRP’s formation and alignment with the MVA reflect a strategic consolidation of Dalit votes. This unity aimed to prevent the division of votes that would otherwise weaken the opposition’s chances against the BJP. The PRP’s leadership, recognizing Maharashtra’s socio-political realities, urged the Dalit community to prioritize the survival of the Constitution and democracy over independent electoral battles. This call for unity was somewhat instrumental in containing the fragmentation of anti-BJP votes.


The 2024 Maharashtra Lok Sabha elections illustrate the repetition of the VBA’s strategy like 2019. However, the emergence of the PRP and the consolidation efforts of the MVA have played a crucial role in containing the potential damage from vote splitting. By uniting Dalit organizations and emphasizing the broader goal of preserving democracy, these efforts have mitigated the impact of the VBA’s independent stance.

The next few months and years – especially the upcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra –will reveal how these dynamics play out and whether the unity among Dalit organizations can counterbalance the VBA’s influence, ultimately determining the election’s outcome in Maharashtra.


Maharashtra: Three Tables that ask whether Prakash Ambedkar’s VBA will tilt the 2024 balance

Maharashtra: Save Constitution & Democracy, Dalit Ambedkarites unite, declare support to MVA

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