Union Agriculture Minister and NCP president Sharad Pawar has slammed his former ally and Republican Party of India (RPI) leader Ramdas Athawale for betraying the cause of Babasaheb Ambedkar by teaming up with the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance.
Speaking at the 12th foundation day function of his party at Somaiya Maidan on Friday, Pawar read out some of the 22 oaths administered by Ambedkar to his followers while converting to Buddhism in 1956 — that they would neither worship Hindu gods nor perform rituals at the hands of Brahmins. “But Athawale has teamed up with a party (the Shiv Sena) whose chief is called the ‘Hindu Hridaya Samrat’ (emperor of Hindu hearts),” Pawar said. “And his other ally is a party (the BJP) which says Hinduism is nationalism.”
He said Athawale had the freedom to take his own decision, but the irony was that while Ambedkar had refused to consider Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh as gods and wanted his followers to do so, Athawale was befriending those who indulged in politics of that religion. “In our country, we have people from different religions and there is a need for harmony among all sections,” Pawar said. “Parties which indulge in the politics of religion are dangerous to the country and they are not congruent with Ambedkar’s philosophy.” He urged Athawale to ponder whether he had strayed on to the wrong path.
Pawar’s remarks came at a time when 10 of the 23 municipal corporations (including Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur) and 27 of the 33 zilla parishads are going to polls within eight months across the state. The Congress and NCP are vying with each other to establish supremacy in the state and are preparing to go solo in the polls.