Ambedkar’s followers can’t be Naxals, says Ramdas Athawale

Union Minister Ramdas Athawale today condemned an alleged plan by Maoists to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but said the Elgar Parishad and subsequent violence at Bhima-Koregaon near Pune had no Naxal connection.

Followers of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar can never be Naxals, Athawale, a prominent Dalit leader, said in a statement here.

Several Dalit activists were among the organisers of Elgar Parishad held in Pune.

“We condemn the anti-national elements hatching such a conspiracy,” Athawale said, referring to the Pune police’s claim that Maoists were planning to carry out a “Rajiv Gandhi-type incident”. Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in May 1991.

Modi is following “sab ka saath, sab ka vikas” policy to build an India as contemplated in the Constitution, and it was “wrong” to accuse him of working to strengthen a particular religion, Athawale said.

The Pune police yesterday claimed that a letter found in the house of a person arrested for alleged Maoist links talks about the ultras mulling a “Rajiv Gandhi-type incident” and suggesting Modi should be targeted during his road shows.

The letter was recovered from the house of Rona Wilson who was among five people arrested in connection with the Elgar Parishad held in Pune last December and the subsequent Bhima-Koregaon violence, police said.

“Ambedkarites were attacked at Bhima-Koregaon. No Naxal was involved in the Maharashtra bandh which was called to protest the attack. Nor was there any Naxal in the Elgar Parishad,” Athawale said.

Action should be taken against those arrested for alleged Naxal links if there was evidence, he said.

“Ambedkarites can never be Naxals and Naxals can never be Ambedkarites. I will speak to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis if there are any genuine Ambedkarites among those arrested,” the minister said.

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