MUMBAI: Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar Monday rebutted NCP chief Sharad Pawar's claims that he had helped the former win the Lok Sabha election from Akola in Maharashtra in 1998.
Talking to reporters here, Ambedkar, a prominent leader of the Scheduled Castes in the state, said Pawar was "lying" in stating that he helped him win the election 20 years ago.
Ambedkar's comments came in the backdrop of certain statements made by Pawar.
It all started when Ambedkar last week questioned the NCP's secular credentials, drawing a sharp reaction from the Maratha strongman.
"Pawar should not have lied that his support led to my victory in the Lok Sabha elections in 1997-98. I had made an understanding with then Congress national president the late Sitaram Kesri. Pawar had nothing to do with it," he said.
"Sharad Pawar (who was then in the Congress) was nowhere in the picture. It was another Congress leader, Murli Deora, who informed that Sharad Pawar wanted to meet me."
"Pawar had visited my home and stated that he would like to be part of negotiations between the Congress president and me (for support in polls)," Ambedkar claimed.
The SC leader, who heads one of the factions of the Republican Party of India (RPI), said in fact the NCP had fielded its candidate against him in the 1999 Lok Sabha polls.
Pawar later quit the Congress and formed the NCP in June 1999, just months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
"My politics has nothing to do with Sharad Pawar. His party's candidate contested against me. In the 1999 general elections, in the Akola Lok Sabha constituency, the NCP candidate contested against me. He got around 1.25 lakh votes," said Ambedkar.
He Thursday reportedly said Pawar was "secular", but not his party.
Reacting to this, Pawar had said "Ambedkar would not have taken the NCP's support in elections from Akola had the NCP been not secular."
Earlier this month, Ambedkar, the grandson of chief Constitution maker B R Ambedkar, announced a pre-poll alliance with the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) led by Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi.