The conversion of the mother and brother of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, who committed suicide in Hyderabad, to Buddhism in the city has now turned into a tussle between Dalit leaders Ramdas Athawale and Prakash Ambedkar.
Republican Party of India (RPI) chief Ramdas Athawale on Friday accused his rival Prakash Ambedkar, who heads the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM), of pressuring both Rohith’s mother Radhika and brother Raja against meeting him. “I wanted to felicitate both of them for embracing Buddhism, but Prakash Ambedkar pressurized them against meeting me,” said Athawale.
Athawale said he was ready with Rs2 lakh compensation for the Vemula family. “I had invited them to my house. I was also ready to go and meet them, but they were prevented from doing so,” he said. “Ambedkar knows that anyone who meets me becomes my follower. He feared I would hijack the issue. Despite being a member of the ruling NDA, I will raise the issue and demand a CBI inquiry into Rohith’s death.”
Ambedkar said, “I don’t react to such allegations.”
Ambedkar, who has always allied with the third front, has in the past accused Athawale of not being able to do anything substantial for the Dalit community, despite partnering with the ruling alliance.