Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders have taken on Republican Party of India (RPI) chief Ramdas Athawale, the party’s former ally, for switching partners and joining hands with the Shiv Sena in the upcoming civic polls.
Backward class leaders of the NCP have attacked Athawale’s decision as smacking of political and personal opportunism that will cost the Dalits heavily.
Athawale is also under fire from the third front (that Athawale was recently a part of), the Republican Left Democratic Front, for ignoring their resolution to keep away from the ruling alliance and the saffron combine. They say the move will weaken the Dalit base.
Public Works minister and NCP’s most dominant OBC leader, Chhagan Bhujbal, slammed the new alliance. He said, “Either the Sena or Athawale has been transformed. The first seems difficult given the Sena’s consistent communal stance. If the second is true then no Dalit should side with Athawale.’’
NCP is worried that Athawale’s alliance with Sena will disturb the equations in the coming civic and council polls in favour of the saffron combine.
As a result, NCP is focussing on Dalits and backward classes in its poll campaign. For instance, its foundation day will be celebrated with a social justice conference. This will be followed by a separate rally for Dalits, minorities and OBCs in the state.
“NCP chief Sharad Pawar took the decision to rename the Marathwada university after Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Similarly, Maharashtra was the first state under Pawar to implement the Mandal report,’’ added Bhujbal.
NCP minister for water supply and sanitation Laxman Dhobale, also backward class leader said, “Dalits will figure out that Athawale is doing this for personal gains. They should decide whether they want to side with a leader who is with Dalits only in name but not in spirit.”