Pawar questions Athawale's commitment to Ambedkar



Mumbai: Union Agriculture Minister and NCP president Sharad Pawar on Friday questioned RPI leader Ramdas Athawale's allegiance to B R Ambedkar's ideals, in the light of Athawale's joining hands with Shiv Sena and BJP.

Speaking at a rally on the occasion of 12th foundation day of NCP here, Pawar said that after renouncing Hinduism, Ambedkar had given 22 pledges to his followers. One of them was not to worship Hindu gods, and shun rituals supervised by Brahmins.

"Athawale has now joined hands with people who like to call themselves Hindu Hriday-samrat...Athawale has given up Ambedkar's ideals," Pawar said, without naming Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.

Saying that for BJP, Hindutva was nationalism, he asked, "How can one religion be equated with nationalism when India is a multi-cultural and multi-religious country?"

Saying that Athawale had a democratic right to choose his path, the NCP chief said, "I am only worried that he has gone away from Ambedkar's ideology."

He added that Athawale had helped NCP in the past, and he got some help in return.

"We did not do favours to each other. Athawale broke ties with NCP and contested Lok Sabha election last time from the Congress's quota and lost. We had made him and his colleagues ministers in my government in the state.

"After his loss, he got angry and took a different path for Assembly polls, but he did not get people's support...Now he has taken a different route. I wish him well," Pawar said.

PTI