Ambedkar said he would concentrate on consolidating dalit votes for the 2019 elections.
Mumbai: Prakash Ambedkar’s lead in the Bhima-Koregaon issue signals his gradual emergence as a strong dalit leader. It seems to have posed a big challenge to Republican Party of India (RPI) leader and Union minister Ramdas Athawale.
With an eye on the 2019 polls, Mr Athawale has started talking about dalit unity and demanded action against Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, for the violence
that broke out in Bhima-Koregaon, Pune, sources said.
Mr Ambedkar said he would concentrate on consolidating dalit votes for the 2019 elections, but will keep a distance from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress.
“Due to this, the BJP will suffer a loss because the chief minister is not properly handling dalit sentiments,” sources said.
Mr Ambedkar has taken a lead in the Bhima-Koregaon issue and organised a state-wide bandh, which has strengthened his position as a dalit leader. Dalits were feeling unsafe or insecure following the demands for Maratha reservation and the diluting provisions of the Atrocities Act to register a complaint. Mr Ambedkar has started planning and gearing up for 2019 elections.
Speaking to The Asian Age, Mr Ambedkar said, “I will consolidate dalit votes as it is a vote bank.” He wants to show power of dalit votes and has started working to unite them socially and politically through various activities.
This has shaken the RPI leader, who is also trying to mobilise dalit sentiments. He met chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and demanded that action be taken against Bhide and Ekbote.
He now seems to be ready to take any decision to ensure dalit unity as it is necessary to retain support for his party, said sources.
The BJP does not have strong dalit leaders which is why it got Mr Athawale on its side. But after the Bhima-Koregaon issue, dalit sentiments have turned anti-BJP and government.
Mr Ambedkar is trying to take advantage of this situation, which will definitely affect the BJP in the 2019 elections. Now Mr Athawale is also pressuring the chief minister to arrest Bhide and Ekbote, keeping in mind dalit sentiments, sources clarified.