June 4, 2011 3:10:00 am
The NCP,which is rattled by its former ally Ramdas Athawale tying up with the Shiv Sena-BJP in the run-up to local polls,is preparing to reach out to Dalits by organising a rally to declare a charter on their welfare,but confusion prevails in the party over the contentious issue of renaming Dadar railway station after Dr Babasaheb Ambedkars final resting place,Chaityabhoomi.
After Athawale teamed up with the saffron alliance recently,the NCP had decided to consolidate its position among Dalits by organising the Samajik Parivartan Hakk Parishad to commemorate its 12th foundation day on June 10. NCP president Sharad Pawar had called for suggestions from party leaders and experts in various fields to enable the party to declare a charter for the welfare of Dalits on the occasion.
One of the suggestions received by the party was the renaming of Dadar station as Chaityabhoomi as Ambedkar was cremated at Dadar chowpatty (seaface). It has triggered a row with MNS president Raj Thackeray opposing the renaming of Dadar on grounds that it is just a political game to play with emotions of Dalits. Athawale and Thackeray have been engaged in a war of words for the past few days,with some RPI workers demonstrating near Thackerays house at Dadar on Wednesday.
Meanwhile,NCP leaders appear to be confused over the issue,with NCPs national general secretary D P Tripathi and state NCP chief Madhukar Pichad speaking in different voices.
Tripathi said on Friday his party was firm on renaming Dadar. For (renaming Dadar as) Chaityabhoomi,there was a demand from the people and we have decided to accept it, Tripathi told The Indian Express. Achha hai (it is good),kar dena chahiye (it should be done).
However,Pichad has claimed that the partys rally would discuss only developmental issues,not emotive ones. It is learnt that Pawar had called up Pichad on Thursday and slammed him for the renaming issue becoming controversial even before it was accepted and had asked him to rein in NCP leaders who were leaking out suggestions made for the charter.
The NCP is jittery of losing the Dalit votebank as Athawale used to ensure its support for the past 20 years. All the RPI factions have not supported Athawale, Tripathi said,Well seek the support of other (rival) factions. We are in touch with them.
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