Dismissing a rumour about writing a letter pointing out former BJP MP Nana Patole’s role during post-khairlanji turmoil in 2006, Congress leader Nitin Raut said, “this is completely false news. I have written no such letter. Actually, there is no question of writing any such letter. It’s a mischievous campaign in the media.”
Four members of Dalit Bhotmange family, Surekha, her daughter Priyanka and sons Roshan and Sudhir, were brutally killed to death by villagers of Khairlanji in Bhandara district on September 29, 2006. Patole belongs to the Kunbi community, which had allegedly led the charge against the Bhotmanges.
Meanwhile, Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar has refuted reports that he had issued any statement supporting or opposing Patole’s nomination. “I haven’t issued any statement. I gather that some local organisations have issued the statement against him. There is no question of supporting Patole. We are standing in an election against Congress at all the places.”
Patole is being viewed as a strong challenger to Nitin Gadkari, the current BJP MP for the 2019 polls. He had handsomely won the Lok Sabha election on his home turf of Bhandara-Gondia constituency, which has a sizeable Dalit population in 2014, eight years after Khairlanji. He quit BJP in 2017 protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “dictatorial” attitude.
In the subsequent bypoll there last year, NCP’s Madhukar Kukde had won. Even Kukde’s name had adversely figured in the post-Khairlanji Kunbi leaders taking a partisan stand. Kukde, incidentally, was a BJP MLA then.
As first reported by The Indian Express, Patole was the Congress front-runner for Nagpur, where local leaders are engaged in internecine war.