In an attempt to break the perception of being a largely Maratha centric party, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) seems to have embarked on a major Dalit outreach programme in the state. NCP president Sharad Pawar, who is seen as the architect behind the party’s strategy to reach out to Dalits in Maharashtra as part of this strategy, will visit Indu Mill, the proposed site for a memorial for Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, on Tuesday.
Pawar will be accompanied by Minister of Social Justice Dhananjay Munde as well as Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik where Pawar will review the plans of the memorial.
The visit is part of the optics that has been planned by the party to reach out to the politically active Dalit community, which makes up 13 per cent of the state’s voting population.
Soon after the 2019 Assembly election results were announced, Pawar had given a call to his party workers that the party needed to reach out to Dalits and neo-Buddhists. “Traditionally, Dalits and neo-Buddhists have been with the NCP. However in the recent past, they have joined the Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA). We will have to redraft our strategy to bring them back into the NCP fold,” Pawar had said after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Soon after taking over as Deputy Chief Minister, senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar, in one of his early visits, went to Koregaon Bhima, which is a rallying point for Dalit activism. He had also visited Chaityabhoomi and reviewed the Dr Ambedkar memorial project. The NCP was also seen as the driving force behind the decision to increase the height of the memorial by 100 feet and for the same purpose a decision was taken by the state cabinet last week.
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