Union minister and Republican Party of India (A) chief Ramdas Athawale on Tuesday said his party has “differences” with the RSS on the issue of Hindutva but not with “Ambedkarite” Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and trashed the opposition’s allegation that the Centre will alter the Constitution.
Mr Athawale said the BJP and other parties were not “anti-Dalit”, but added efforts should be made to punish those who commit atrocities on the community.
Minister of State for Social Justice Athawale also claimed the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), led by Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar and AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi, will not be able to win a single seat in Maharashtra in the Lok Sabha polls.
“The BJP supports the ideology of Babasaheb (BR Ambedkar). The RSS too supports the ideology of Babasaheb. But we do have differences with the RSS on the issue of Hindutva,” Mr Athawale said during an interaction with BBC News Marathi in Mumbai.
“But there are absolutely no differences with Narendra Modi who is an Ambedkarite. He (PM Modi) says he would not have become prime minister had Babasaheb’s Constitution not been there,” Mr Athawale added.
Referring to PM Modi’s statement, Mr Athawale said the prime minister was not for changing the Constitution as is often alleged by some opposition parties including the Congress.
“The Congress and the NCP have no other issue left but to allege that Modi will change the Constitution,” Mr Athawale said.
To drive home his point that the BJP was not “anti- Dalit”, Mr Athawale listed works the Central government carried out to preserve the ideology of BR Ambedkar, including its efforts to set up a memorial of the Dalit icon in Mumbai.
Mr Athawale claimed his party workers wanted him to contest forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, and that he had talked about filing nomination from the Mumbai South Central seat, currently represented by Shiv Sena’s Rahul Shewale.
“But the Shiv Sena did not consider the idea,” he said.
He stressed that the RPI(A) would continue to be part of the BJP-led NDA.
Polling will be held in 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra in four phases next month.
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