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Politicians eye Dalit vote

mumbai Updated: Dec 06, 2010 01:08 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Babasaheb Ambedkar

Politics is all about hitting at the right time. Many political parties in the state have geared up to woo the Dalit community by becoming a part of the 54th death anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on Monday at Shivaji Park.

Usually, all political parties show respect to Babasaheb on his death anniversary, also known as Mahaparinirvan Din, but the presence of non-Dalit politicians is likely to be more this year in view of the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections.

The entire cabinet, including chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, are likely to make a journey from Nagpur to pay homage to the Dalit leader.

Other political parties are also planning to make their presence felt amongst the five lakh Dalit devotees who throng Shivaji Park. The opposition parties have also prepared themselves to reach out to the community by deploying their members at the ground to assist the visitors.

“Our cadres will be at the ground to help the people. We will also set up food stalls for the visitors,” BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said.

Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has set up kiosks to sell literature on Dr Ambedkar, and also medical check-up camps for people coming to Chaityabhoomi on Monday. “Our cadres will be manning these stalls. This occasion gives us a good chance to serve the people,” MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande said.

The Shiv Sena too has arranged for food for the visitors.

The 12 factions of the Republican Party of India, set up by Babasaheb, will also display their strength at the ground. Several Dalit leaders, including, Prakash Ambedkar, Ramdas Athavale, Jogendra Kawade, Namdeo Dhasal, Surekha Kumbhare, Rajendra Gavai, and T M Kamble, will be present there.

Incidentally, the strength of Dalit parties has been waning, as the RPI failed to win any seat in the assembly elections.

Political analyst Surendra Jondhale said: “It is a telling statement on Dr Ambedkar’s contribution to the Dalit community that even 54 years after his death, lakhs of people converge to pay tribute to him. At the same time, it also shows that Dalits have not been able to find a leader of his stature.”

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