Union minister and RPI (A) president Ramdas Athawale today blasted Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, saying the latter was putting Dalits in "danger" and that he should stop taking the "support of Maoism people". The minister also adviced Mevani, who is championing himself as the new age Dalit leader, to stop making "provocative speeches" and instead work for bringing people together. "Jignesh Mevani is a youth from our Dalit community. He has become an MLA. That is good. But, if he is a true Amedkarite, he should not take the support of people of Maoism, Naxalism, and Marxism. I feel Dalit protection would not happen by giving provocative speeches.
Mevani is doing the work of putting Dalits in danger," the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment told reporters here in reply to a query. Athawale said he had already given a statement that the recent violence in Koregaon Bhima in Maharashtra had nothing to do with Mevani's speech when an allegation was levelled against the latter. "It would not help if Mevani gives provocative speeches. He should talk about bringing the society together. He should not speak nonsense. He should speak sense," he said. One person was killed in the caste violence between two groups near Koregaon Bhima village in Pune district on January 1 during the bicentennial event to commemorate the victory of the British forces, comprising Dalits, on the army of Peshwa Bajirao II. Dalits view the battle as the defeat of "casteism" as Peshwas, who represented 'Chhatrapti' (Maratha king), were Brahmins. The mobs had damaged and torched several vehicles and shops on New Year's day. Besides, houses of local residents were also ransacked. Preceding the Koregaon Bhima incident, an "Elgaar" parishad (conference) was held at historic Shaniwarwada, the erstwhile headquarters of Peshwas, in Pune on December 31. A string of speakers including Mevani, JNU student leader Umar Khalid, late Rohit Vemula's mother Radhika Vemula, Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh president Prakash Ambedkar, and members of radical cultural group Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) had attended that conference. The police had booked Mevani, Khalid, and KKM members for making "provocative" speeches and creating a rift between two communities during the Shaniwarwada event. At the Yuva Hunkar' rally held in Delhi on January 9, Mevani had called the Narendra Modi government a "threat" to democracy and the Constitution.
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