Friday, May 20, 2011

[ZESTCaste] 'Cong creating rift between Sena, RPI(A)'

'Cong creating rift between Sena, RPI(A)'
Ambarish Mishra, TNN | May 20, 2011, 12.36am IST

MUMBAI: Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has accused the state Congress
leadership of reviving the Marathwada University renaming controversy,
known as 'namantar' in political parlance, to drive a wedge between
the Sena and its new-found Dalit ally, the
Republican Party of India (Ramdas Athavale group:RPI-A).

In a statement on Thursday, Thackeray stoutly denied the Congress
charge that he had opposed the re-naming of the Marathwada university
after Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. The state Congress, he said, is
reigniting the controversy to trigger a split in the Sena-RPI(A)

The re-naming row may now be a relic of the past. However, the issue
had strong political-cultural undertones in the 1970s, and it had
disrupted the fragile Maratha-Dalit caste balance in the state as the
then chief minister Sharad Pawar cleared the decks for the re-naming
of the university after Dr Ambedkar in keeping with Maharashtra's
progressive credo. Pawar threw his entire political weight behind the
pro-changers- the socialist-Dalit-left parties which favoured the
re-naming of the university. A resolution was unanimously passed by
the state legislature.

This had triggered largescale Dalit-caste Hindu riots in Marathwada.

Vehemently opposed to the move, The Sena cleverly cultivated its caste
Hindu vote-bank in the politically sensitive region. In later years,
the Congress suffered political reverses in Marathwada, even as the
Sena graph continued to soar.

The Sena is now cosying up to the RPI(A) in an attempt to weld a caste
Hindu-Dalit alliance to take on the ruling Congress-NCP alliance in
the upcoming BMC polls. Not to be outdone, the state Congress has
revived the 'namantar' debate only to embarrass Thackeray. The
Congress strategy is to remind the Dalit voters that Athavale, who cut
his political teeth during the 'namantar' stir, is now ready to team
up with the anti-Ambedkar Sena.

Claiming to set the record straight,
Thackeray, in his statement, said he was never opposed to renaming the
Marathwada university after Dr Ambedkar. ''My only contention was that
Marathwada's valiant history, its long-drawn fight against the
draconian Nizam rule should not be forgotten.''

Thackeray further claimed that he had suggested, during talks with
another RPI leader R S Gavai (now governor of Kerala) that the
university should be named as Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada
university ''Gavai had accepted my suggestion and Pawar too had
endorsed it,'' the Sena supremo added.

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