The Republican Party of India (Athavale), a constituent of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led mega alliance in Maharashtra, Sunday demanded legal action against yoga guru Ramdev Baba for his “honeymoon” remark involving Dalits. Ramdev, who has announced his support to the BJP, had on April 25 said Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi “goes to the houses of Dalits for honeymoon and picnic”.
While he has since apologised, the remarks have stirred up a hornet’s nest. The Congress and the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) were among the first to demand criminal action against Ramdev. On Sunday, RPI (A) chief Ramdas Athavale too demanded legal action against him.
The BJP has, so far, been defending Ramdev.
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“He is a saint whose words should be viewed in the context in which they were made and not as per the perception of Congress leaders. When he selects words like honeymoon, which is an English word, the context should be understood and its usage seen and not be misconstrued,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain had said on April 26.
Athavale, however, suggested that such “loose talk” could ruin the BJP’s prospects.
“The BJP under Narendra Modi is working on political and social coalitions across the nation at the moment. Modi has found an appeal among Dalit voters too. But such insensitive remarks hurt their sentiments and can wean away Dalit supporters,” said Athavale, a prominent Dalit face, who also claims to have been assured a ministerial berth in the Union cabinet if the alliance came to power.
“Modi’s development plank is being appreciated by all sections in the society. Those supporting his bid to become prime minister should refrain from making irresponsible comments,” said the RPI chief.