Dalit parties lock horns over memorial for Ambedkar
Ambarish Mishra, TNN | Jan 7, 2012, 02.50AM IST
MUMBAI: RPI-A chief's Ramdas Athavale's woes are far from over. He may
have extracted a few more seats from the saffron alliance. However,
the maverick RPI leader has Anandraj Ambedkar breathing down his neck
over the Dr B R Ambedkar memorial in central Mumbai. The Ambedkar
monument that has become a major poll issue raises a host of questions
about the Dalit diaspora.
Noted Dalit poet Namdeo Dhasal fired a salvo against Athavale. Dhasal,
who has excellent equations with the Sena, is reportedly upset with
Matoshree for promoting Athavale. Dhasal and Athavale had a tiff on
Thursday at Sena Bhavan where the Sena-BJP-RPI leaders met to discuss
seat-sharing. As Dhasal was wheeled into Sena CEO Uddhav Thackeray's
office, several of Athavale's supporters stopped Dhasal's loyalists at
the doorstep. This sparked a row and a fuming Dhasal walked out of the
meeting. Later, Athavale tendered his apology to Dhasal. However, the
poet is in no mood for a truce. It all began with Athavale sealing a
poll pact with the Sena-BJP combine. The alliance has created fissures
in the state's multi-layered Dalit movement. Many Dalit activists are
opposed to Athavale's breaking bread with the Hindutva brigade.
It is in this context that the recent Dalit crusade, led by Anandraj,
to set up an Ambedkar memorial on a 12-acre plot of the India United
Mills , assumes political significance.
Anandraj is the late Dr B R Ambedkar's grandson. Anandraj took charge
of the stir and forcibly occupied the now-defunct India United Mills
to press his demand that the Maharashtra government should acquire the
mill plot from the National Textiles Corporation and clear the decks
to set up the memorial.
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