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Bhima Koregaon violence: Prakash Ambedkar accuses Sharad Pawar of shielding Ekbote in past

An NCP spokesperson denied the allegation, pointing out that Ambedkar's own party was part of the ruling coalition in Maharashtra during the period he was referring to.

Published: 05th February 2018 01:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th February 2018 01:10 AM   |  A+A-

Prakash Ambedkar (PTI File Photo)

By PTI

MUMBAI: Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar today alleged that NCP leader Sharad Pawar had, in the past, opposed invocation of the stringent MCOCA provisions against right-wing leader Milind Ekbote, who is now accused of inciting anti-Dalit violence at Bhima-Koregaon.

He will not join hands with the NCP to take on the BJP, Ambedkar said, and indicated that he wasn't willing to align with the Congress either.

An NCP spokesperson denied the allegation, pointing out that Ambedkar's own party was part of the ruling coalition in Maharashtra during the period he was referring to.

Ambedkar, grandson of iconic Dalit leader Dr B R Ambedkar, was speaking to media after a state-level convention of his party here.

In 2001, when the home portfolio in the Congress-NCP government was with the NCP, "Pawar (as NCP chief) opposed pressing charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act against Ekbote in a riot case in Pune", Ambedkar claimed.

"I will not align with the NCP. The Left parties are always with me," he said.

"Today Pawar calls others communal. But when he had power, he did not act," Ambedkar alleged, adding that he would consider aligning with other secular parties.

Ambedkar also said that state Congress chief Ashok Chavan should come clean on his "ties with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Hindu Mahasabha" and then talk to him.

In a recent blog post, Chavan had asked Ambedkar to join hands with the Congress to defeat the BJP.

When contacted for comment, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik termed Ambedkar's allegation against Pawar as baseless.

"Pawar never interfered in the functioning of (home) ministry. Had Pawar interfered, Bhujbal (an NCP leader who was state home minister in the 1990s) would not have arrested late (Shiv Sena founder) Bal Thackeray.

"Ambedkar (his party) was part of the government from 1999 to 2004. Why didn't his ministers raise voice then?" Malik asked.

The Dalit leader was free to choose his allies, but he should decide who was his primary enemy, the Sena-BJP or the secular parties, Malik said.

Ekbote, who heads the Samast Hindu Aghadi, has been booked by Pune police for inciting violence against Dalits at Bhima-Koregaon war memorial in Pune district on January 1.

One person was killed and several others were injured in the violence which erupted after right-wing outfits opposed the 200th anniversary celebration of the Bhima-Koregaon battle, in which forces of the East India Company defeated Peshwa's army.

Members of the Mahar community among Dalits had fought for the British, while the Peshwas were Brahmins. Dalit groups celebrate the victory as a symbol of their resurgence.



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