Days after announcing its split with Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen on Sunday said a rethink on the alliance ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly polls was possible provided VBA chief Prakash Ambedkar reaches out to its president Asaduddin Owaisi and shows flexibility on seat sharing.
AIMIM Maharashtra unit chief Imtiaz Jaleel, however, also said his party was as of now preparing to go it alone and looking to contest a maximum of 60 seats, being very selective by prioritising the winnable ones.
He said the AIMIM tried its best "till the last moment" to keep the alliance with VBA going.
"We reduced our figures, had meetings between both the party leaders -- Mr Owaisi and Mr Ambedkar -- but it did not work out. When Mr Ambedkar made a firm decision that he will give only eight seats that was the final nail in the coffin and Mr Owaisi said let us go alone," Mr Jaleel told PTI.
Asked if there could be a rethink and the door was still open for an AIMIM-VBA tie-up, he said: "I don't think it is that difficult that it couldn't be resolved. If Mr Ambedkar, being the elder brother, takes a resolve that 'I want to continue, let's restart again'. If he reaches out to Mr Owaisi and asks to come back to the table, we will agree."
The VBA could not provide any convincing reason as to why it offered just eight seats to the AIMIM, the MP from Aurangabad said.
On why does AIMIM want Mr Ambedkar to make the move for reconciliation, Mr Jaleel said when the VBA chief informed Mr Owaisi about offering only eight seats through an email, the AIMIM chief was very upset.
"Mr Owaisi said that he had given so much respect to Balasaheb (Prakash Ambedkar), 'he could have just called me and then we could have negotiated'. The very fact that the message was conveyed through an email, came as a shocker," he told PTI over phone.
On whether there was hope for AIMIM-VBA tie-up, Mr Jaleel answered in the affirmative.
"The Congress and NCP are in tatters. People do not have an alternative, so the only alternative they were looking at was VBA and AIMIM," he said.
Interestingly, even after the announcement of the split, Mr Ambedkar has been insisting that the alliance is intact.
Mr Jaleel said since the announcement of the split between AIMIM and VBA, the number of people who want to contest on AIMIM ticket has gone up.
"We are not sure how many seats we will eventually contest (going alone), but one thing is very clear that it won''t cross 60 seats, that is the maximum," he said.
"The final decision (on seats) will be taken by Mr Owaisi. We will also have to work out campaign details and feasibility as he is the only star campaigner for us and he has to campaign in maximum places," he said.
On whether post-alliance split, the Dalit-Muslim combine has broken, Mr Jaleel said it is a totally wrong notion that the Dalit vote is only with the Dalit parties.
"If you take Aurangabad for instance, I have more Dalit corporators than any other party. We have a huge base of Dalit people who are still with us and they see that whatever has happened is not correct," he said.
Mr Jaleel blamed the "arrogance" of the Congress and the NCP's top leadership for disunity in opposition ranks in Maharashtra and said this attitude had given advantage to the BJP-Shiv Sena combine.
He asserted that people from all caste and communities want to contest on AIMIM ticket.
"We have 150 corporators across Maharashtra. We have penetrated in rural areas also. When we fought on 24 seats, we won 2. Obviously we are going to go much much beyond that. That is the challenge I have taken," he said.
The AIMIM contested 24 seats in 2014 and got two legislators elected.