RPI leader Ramdas Athawale forgot to say his name while taking oath as a minister of state at the Rashtrapati Bhawan earlier today. The Maharashtra leader had to be nudged by President Pranab Mukherjee to take his name mid-way into the oath.
Athawale is a Dalit leader and is a member of the Rajya Sabha. Athawale’s party, the Republican Party of India, is an ally of the BJP in Maharashtra.
Dressed in dark blue kurta-pyjama, a yellow jacket and a turban, Athawale finished his oath by shouting the slogan of ‘Jai Bheem, Jai Bharat’.
Athawale’s induction into the council of ministers is seen as balancing important caste equations ahead of important elections in Uttar Pradesh and Mumbai.
In Maharashtra, Dalits constitute 10.8 per cent votes. In Mumbai, Dalit population is 16 per cent which the party feels will work to its advantage in the 227 wards in BMC elections. There are at least 60 BMC wards in Mumbai with a Dalit population ranging from 10,000 to over a lakh. Athavale is expected to help in vote transformation of Dalits in favour of BJP candidates in the BMC polls.
(With inputs from Shubhangi Khapre)