Pawar slams RPI for teaming up with 'Hindutva forces'
Ambarish Mishra Jun 11, 2011, 01.58am IST
MUMBAI: Union agriculture minister and Nationalist Congress Party
(NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Friday slammed Republican Party of India (
RPI) leader Ramdas Athavale for teaming up with Hindutva forces.
Targeting the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party-RPI partnership, Pawar
said, "It is unfortunate that Athavale should join hands with the
Sena-BJP combine, which equates Hindutva with nationalism.'' Pawar was
addressing a conclave at Chunabhatti to mark the NCP's 12th
"Athavale has strayed away from Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar's path. When he
renounced Hinduism and embraced Buddhism, Dr Ambedkar had given a vow
to his neo-Buddhist followers not to worship Hindu deities or seek the
services of a Brahmin priest for rituals. However, Athavale has
forgotten the pledge. He has teamed up with a party that is headed by
a 'Hindu-hriday-samrat','' Pawar said, referring to Sena chief Bal
Thackeray's much-touted title. "Equating one religion with nationalism
and upholding the thoughts and principles of a single faith will
threaten the country's multi-cultural, pluralistic and multi-religious
character,'' the NCP chief warned.
The Maratha strongman's criticism of Athavale clearly reflected the
growing worry in the NCP rank and file about the new political
equations scripted by the Sena-BJP-RPI partnership in the run-up to
the civic elections.
Pointing out that the NCP was engaged in a long-drawn crusade for
social transformation in the country, Pawar said the food security
legislation would cover 90% of the rural and 15% of the urban
population. "We will supply wheat, jowar and rice to the beneficiaries
at a modest price. The idea is to see that the fruits of the
fast-paced economic growth reach the lowest strata of society,'' he
The NCP's unflinching commitment to the Dalit cause was the theme of
speeches at the jamboree. Senior NCP leader Praful Patel said his
party was instrumental in renaming the Nagpur international airport
after Dr Ambedkar. The conclave adopted a social transformation
charter which, among other issues, includes a demand for renaming
Dadar railway station as Chaityabhoomi. But the Sena is opposed to the
renaming of Dadar, the party bastion.
Public Works Department minister Chhagan Bhujbal urged the Sena to
observe the teachings of the late Prabodhankar K S Thackeray, a
well-known reformer and Bal Thackeray's father; the teachings were of
social justice and the empowerment of the downtrodden.
Senior NCP leader P A Sangma said after breaking away from the
Congress in 1999, his party has been growing stronger day by day.
Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, N D Tiwari and Arjun Singh too had
launched breakaway groups, however, they didn't last long, Sangma
Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said the NCP was ready for a
tit-for-tat bout with the Sena. Asking Sena CEO Uddhav Thackeray to
mind his language, home minister R R Patil said, "We have an ample
stock of foul words. Uddhav Thackeray will faint if we give him a
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