Sharad Pawar reaches out to Brahmin community ahead of local body polls

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday held an open dialogue in Pune with representatives of various Brahmin organisations from the state and assured them his party leaders will not make remarks against any caste or religion
NCP chief Sharad Pawar (right) during a meeting with various Brahmins organisations at Nisarg Mangal Karyalaya in Pune. (Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)
NCP chief Sharad Pawar (right) during a meeting with various Brahmins organisations at Nisarg Mangal Karyalaya in Pune. (Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)
Published on May 22, 2022 12:20 AM IST
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Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday held an open dialogue in Pune with representatives of various Brahmin organisations from the state and assured them his party leaders will not make remarks against any caste or religion.

The meeting assumed significance as it took place ahead of the local body polls in Pune where the Brahmin community has a sizeable population and NCP is looking to wrest power at the municipal corporation level.

The meeting was held against the backdrop of several community outfits expressing unhappiness with the NCP amid the growing perception that the party is whipping up anti-Brahmin sentiments with its leaders making various statements that did not go down well among many.

The community was agitated with NCP over a few statements made by its leaders in the last few weeks. Pawar too read out a poem penned by a poet Jawahar Rathod that deals with the issue of casteism being faced by the backward classes who are not allowed to enter the temples on May 9.

Against the backdrop of this, some community representatives and NCP leader Pradip Garatkar decided to organise a meeting with Pawar.

Pawar said, “If there is an unrest among any section of the society, it is the responsibility of the leaders to listen to that section.”

According to Pawar, there were mainly three demands made by the community. The first demand was to direct party leaders not to make any comments against the community. Secondly, reservation for economically weaker section, to which Pawar said they already have more representation in jobs and elsewhere than the population. And thirdly setting up a Parshuram corporation for the Brahmins along the lines of similar initiatives for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Marathas.

“I have told them to facilitate a meeting with chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and others within a month. The government will decide on setting up of the corporation,” said Pawar.

“Pawar has assured us that NCP leaders will not make any casteist remarks. We also demanded the formation of a finance corporation that has been formed in five states such as Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Punjab. He has agreed to organise a meeting with the chief minister in this regard,” said Govind Kulkarni, Akhil Bhartiya Brahman Mahasangh (ABBM), after attending the meeting with Pawar.

On May 14, Marathi actor Ketaki Chitale was arrested by Thane police over posting a derogatory post on social media platforms against Pawar. Chitale shared a ‘poem’ apparently allegedly written by one advocate Nitin Bhave which made fun of the NCP chief’s physical illness and described him as an anti-Brahmin leader who was destined to go to hell. The post contained phrases like “hell is waiting” and “you hate Brahmins” referring to the NCP chief.

A row erupted after NCP legislator Amol Mitkari ridiculed Hindu rituals such as ‘Kanyadaam’ at weddings at a speech addressing NCP’s Pariwar Samwad Yatra at Islampur in Sangli on April 19.

Hemant Desai, a political analyst, said Pawar made an attempt to pacify the Brahmin community that was agitated over the statements made in the recent past.

“Pawar in the past had said that Swami Ramdas was not the guru of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, but Mitkari’s statement became a trigger point for the controversy. It sent a message that NCP is an anti-Brahmin party. The struggle between Brahmin and non-Brahmin is also not new in Maharashtra. Pawar tried to pacify the community in the light of the election of many corporations, especially Pune where the Brahmin community has a sizeable population and BJP is in power,” Desai said.

‘Govt diverting attention from key issues’

Pawar during a media interaction said, to divert attention from inflation and employment issues, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is coming up with religious issues and creating a divide. The recent issue in Mathura and other religious issues are being bought up by the ruling party. “As they are not able to address the key issues of the common public like employment and inflation, such issues are highlighted,” he said.

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