News » National

Updated: May 22, 2012 11:01 IST

Athawale condones vandalism of ex-NCERT adviser's office

  • Shoumojit Banerjee
Comment (6)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Ramdas Athawale. File Photo: Vivek Bendre
Ramdas Athawale. File Photo: Vivek Bendre

It's an expression of hurt indignation on part of Dalits, he says

The controversy over a six-decades-old political cartoon took a turn for the worse with Republican Party of India president Ramdas Athawale condoning the vandalism of the office of the former National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) adviser Suhas Palshikar by persons affiliated to his party on the Pune University premises on Saturday.

At a press conference here, Mr. Athawale acknowledged that the vandals were from his party but emphasised that Prof. Palshikar was physically unharmed.

Defending the act as an expression of “indignation on the part of the Dalit community,” he demanded that a criminal case be lodged against Yogendra Yadav and Prof. Palshikar, both of whom have resigned from the NCERT in the wake of the Central government's decision to scrap the controversial cartoon from the Class XI textbook.

“Had a private agency published the cartoon, we might have ignored it; but it has circulated in a government textbook,” Mr. Athawale said. He warned that his party activists would have no alternative but to go on a similar rampage if such incidents occurred in the future.

“A cartoon which ridicules Dr. Ambedkar is an insult to the Constitution and Parliament. While HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has apologised, he should investigate this matter sternly.”

“It's not political opportunism”

Asked about the timing of protests by the RPI and other Dalit leaders like Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, Mr. Athawale refuted suggestions of political opportunism.

The RPI chief said he would meet Mr. Sibal in New Delhi on May 18 for talks, failing which, he warned, a massive agitation would be launched by his party.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Athawale played down noises of a rift within the ‘Mahayuti' (mega alliance of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Shiv Sena and the RPI in Maharashtra) following his recent Rajya Sabha snub by the Shiv Sena.

Commenting that both the centrist Congress-NCP coalition and the right-wing BJP-Shiv Sena alliance could not do without the Dalit vote bank in Maharashtra, the RPI chief said his party's strategy for the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly electrons would be to develop a strong grassroots connect.

So deleting cartoons (which Dr Ambedkar himself was comfortable with) is how the problems faced by the Dalits in the country should be solved, according to Ayatollah Athawale (and Ayatollahs Mayawati and Paswan) ?!! By what token is Athawale claiming to represent the Dalit community ? They have hardly won any seats on their own strength. Only when they go for political opportunism and align with different fascists like Shiv Sena and BJP, do they have any visibility, and that too limited. I would like to tell Mr Athawale that Dalits are way too smart to fall into his opportunistic trap. I guess the election results clearly show that too.

from:  S Kumar
Posted on: May 14, 2012 at 15:36 IST

"Had a private agency published the cartoon, we might have ignored it; but it has circulated in a government textbook," - Ignored it? Would it not have been easier for his goons to attack said agency? Probably not, because that wouldn't really draw as much attention as vandalizing a NCERT scholar. They can't be entirely blamed too, I'm sure some of the activists and the folks in the parliament never actually saw a Standard XI textbook. This act is an insult to the intelligence of the average Indian who can understand and appreciate political humor of that time.

from:  Arjun Manjunatha
Posted on: May 13, 2012 at 10:08 IST

The 'justification' offered by Ramdas Athavale is as specious as they get. If there is so much anger, how come there is no effort to improve the lot of Dalits in Pune, instead of attacking a learned Professor? After all, Prof Suhas Palshikar is a man far more mentally equipped than our entire intellectually impoverished political class. Perhaps, in the future as our political class also learns how to read text, we would see an attack on people who have used Premchand's stories in NCERT textbooks for his depiction of the state of the backward castes in the 1920s and 1930s. It would be followed by Kapil Sibal apologising for Premchand on the floor of the House, the burning of Premchand's books and vandalization of the offices of NCERT again for having selected Premchand's books for the CBSE syllabus. O tempora, o mores!

from:  G Krishnamurthy
Posted on: May 13, 2012 at 08:55 IST

Dear Athawale and Team: With due respect to Dr Ambedkar i would like to mention here that there was no controversy, fight on this cartoon during the times it was released. You have apologised for wandalising the office with a cavet "they do not have any other option". You should have done more. you should handover the persons behind this to police and show fullest integrity and consistancy to whom you follow blindly and emotionally- Dr. Ambedkar- who claimed to be architect of indian constitution- who created it for generations to follow. Hope and wish you have the guts to do that. Vande matharam.

from:  Sumesh R Bhat
Posted on: May 13, 2012 at 06:35 IST

Mr Athwale and the Dalit community has every right to feel aggrieved.
I am delighted they vandalized the offices, and yet exercised
restraint by not causing physical harm to its occupant. It is high
time the Hindu abandon its high-horse sermonizing on this subject, and
realize that the cartoon is in fact, deeply offensive and unacceptable
in today's political discourse, much less in a government-sponsored
high school text book - totally unacceptable. Had it been a forward
community leader or even the Father of our Nation, Gandhi being shown
whipped by Jinnah or the British, would NCERT have dared publish the
cartoon? Be grateful that the greater Dalit community is demonstrating
such restraint in the face of this unacceptable provocation. My
sympathies in this instance are entirely with them. In addition, I
take the distasteful cartoon by as a personal insult to the Father of
our Constitution.

from:  lalit
Posted on: May 13, 2012 at 03:10 IST

people in this country are losing their sense of humour . there is a
rich history of cartooning in India and the government should not give
in to the demands of self-serving,narrow-minded politicians . people who
indulge in hooliganism should be strictly dealt with. A request to all
Indians whether you are Hindu/Muslim/Dalit/Leftist/Rightist...: Please
uphold democracy in our country and usher in an era of reason and
rationality and harmony,and do not support these so-called leaders who
are only interested in your vote, not your upliftment.

from:  Anandajit
Posted on: May 13, 2012 at 01:07 IST
Show all comments
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Tamil Nadu

Andhra Pradesh

Other States






Recent Article in National

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pays floral tribute to the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on his 51st death anniversary, at Shanti Van in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Manmohan denies role in 2G scam, attacks Modi government

“I have not used my public office to enrich myself, to enrich my family or my friends” »