Maharashtra’s Higher and Technical Education Minister Chandrakant Patil on Friday courted controversy over his remarks on Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Jyotiba Phule.
“Those who started schools, Ambedkar, Phule… they did not depend on government aid. They started schools by going to people, and begging, by saying, ‘I’m starting a school, please give me money’,” Patil said, while speaking at a programme at a university in Paithan, Aurangabad.
Later in the evening, Patil clarified, “Who started schools? Ambedkar and Phule. This is the truth. What I meant was begging for funds is akin to present-day concepts of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), donations or crowd-funding.”
“Deliberately taking statements out of context or creating controversies over words spoken in vernacular language has become a habit these days,” he said.
“Bheek is bhiksha (begging for charity). The concept is a person going door to door, asking for donations to start something for a good cause. This is a vernacular word for the whole concept,” Patil explained in a statement to the media on Friday evening.
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress president Nana Patole lashed out at Patil. “Bharatiya Janata Party leaders are so intellectually bankrupt that they have no qualms about making insulting statements about great men. While none of the BJP leaders have apologised for the statement about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Patil has criticised Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar…”
“Patil probably does not understand the difference between begging and asking for donations. Money was collected in the form of subscriptions and donations from people and schools were opened. Patil has insulted these great men, the great work done by them and the Bahujan community by saying they asked for ‘bheek’ for their work,” he said.
NCP state president Jayant Patil said BJP leaders are intentionally disrespecting Phule and Ambedkar. “Comparing structural work of these great men to begging is nothing but an intentional disrespect of these great men,” he said.