Shourie should thank God we are not like Khomeini -- RPI
Indian Express, September 3, 2000

MUMBAI, SEPT 2: ``Arun Shourie should thank his gods that we are followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar and not Ayatollah Khomeini, who issued a fatawa to eliminate Salman Rushdie for writing a defamatory book,'' says Jogendra Kawade, former MP and leader of Republican Party of India (Gavai).

Kawade has kicked up a controversy by publicly felicitating two activists of his party who manhandled the union minister for planning and disinvestment when he was about to deliver a lecture at Y B Chavan Centre in Mumbai on August 5. The activists were protesting against the allegedly defamatory book on Ambedkar, Worshipping False Gods penned by Shourie. The attack would have passed off into short-term public memory if Kawade had not taken the surprise step to felicitate his ``boys'' last week.

At the felicitation --organised incidentally at the same venue -- Kawade and other leaders declared to the NDA government at the Centre that they had ``not forgotten the issue''. The book, published in late 1997, had evoked the wrath of Ambedkariites over the remarks that Ambedkar was an agent of the Nizam. "Not only in Maharashtra but everywhere Shourie goes, the Ambedkariites will haunt him,'' said Kawade from the dias. Describing the book ``an anti-national activity'', he felicitated the ``brave Bhimsainiks'' as well as three lawyers who rushed to the court to release them on bail.

``I am proud of the boys who did it,'' Kawade told The Indian Express, ``We have been protesting against the book in a democratic manner ever since it was published. Attacking someone is not justifiable, but I can't blame the activists who were angry with Shourie for spewing venom on our leader. His book is full of hatred for Babasaheb.''

So what do Kawade and his ilk want Shourie to do now? ``He should apologise to the nation for defaming a great national hero who was the architect of our Constitution.'' Further, the Vajpayee led NDA Government at the Centre should ban the book and the Prime Minister should expel Shourie from his ministry, he demanded. Appointing a dalit as party president or paying tributes to Ambedkar at Dikshabhoomi won't do. ``If Vajpayee is really concerned about the feelings of the Ambedkariites, he should immediately drop that person from his ministry,'' Kawade said. He put the entire blame for the controvery on the RSS.

``It was the driving force behind Shourie's book. We had alleged this after the book had been published. Following widespred agitations, the RSS and BJP had disowned Shourie. Now the same people have sent him to Rajya Sabha and rewarded him with a ministerial berth,'' he pointed out.

The book, according to Kawade is highly defamatory of Dr Ambedkar. ``It was a product of a cold blooded conspiracy to wipe out Dr Ambedkar's name from the history of modern India,'' believes the RPI cadre.

The Ambedkarites dispute the authenticity of the contents in Shourie's book. ``Before describing Ambedkar as an agent of the Nizam, he should have studied the history of pre and post-Independence India. It was Ambedkar who had advised Sardar Patel not to evoke wrath of the international community by sending the military to include the Hyderabad state in the Republic of India. Instead, he had suggested police action after which the jawans of Mahar Batalion, pretending as policemen, had attacked the Hyderabad State and freed it from the clutches of the Nizam,'' Kawade and other leaders of the RPI say.

Copyright 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

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