BJP attempting to divide Dalits and Marathas – Congress

Veerappa Moily

The Indian National Congress today alleged that the ruling dispensation at the centre, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, was trying to create enmity between Marathas and Dalits — two prominent communities in Maharashtra that comprise nearly half the population.

Senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily pointed to the ruling alliance as the source of reports and rumors that it was the Marathas who attacked Dalits at Bhima-Koregaon on Monday.

On Tuesday, an FIR was filed against Hindu right wing leaders Milind Ekbote of Samast Hindu Aghadi and Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan for orchestrating stone throwing against Dalits on their way to attend an event.

However, some media reports, such as this one from the Indian Express, said the clashes on Monday took place between Maratha organizations and Dalits. Most reports, however, put the blame on Bhide and Ekbote.

Moily said the Congress Party has ascertained through its reports from the ground that the attacks were not made by Maratha organizations, but by right-wing Hindu groups such as those led by Bhide and Ekbote.

“With the full report from the ground, we can say that the Marathas, Malis and Dalits have been totally united,” Moily said.

“As the agenda goes, fascist attitude of the BJP and RSs, they want to divide the community. Otherwise, they cannot fish in troubled waters,” he said.

He said central minister Ramdas Athavale had given a statement that said that Monday’s attacks were carried out by Maratha organizations.

He said there was a “total bond” of “friendship and amity” between the two communities and the BJP’s attempts to divide them did not bear fruit.

“They could not divide, they remained united to observe a bandh,” he said.

Moily alleged that attempts were being made to hide the involvement of Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, who, according to him, had “cordial relations” with BJP leaders.

Moily went on to display photographs showing Bhide and Ekbote apparently interacting with central and state-level BJP leaders, including one in which one of them was putting a ’tilak’ on chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Meanwhile, BJP leaders smelled conspiracy behind the violence on Monday, and insinuated that it was orchestrated by the Congress to create a caste polarization in the state ahead of elections next year.

The BJP, which projects itself as a champion of Hindu interests, tends not to do well when elections are fought in an atmosphere of caste competition and rivalry.