Dalit groups from Nagpur have opposed the Congress’s plan to field former BJP MP Nana Patole from the Nagpur Lok Sabha seat against union minister Nitin Gadkari, citing his alleged support to the perpetrators of the Khairlanji murders.
Patole, who joined the Congress a year ago, is now said to be the frontrunner for the Congress ticket from Nagpur Lok Sabha seat.
Dalit activists say Patole had “openly supported the culprits” behind the brutal killing of four members of a Dalit family in Khairlanji village in the Bhandara district of Maharashtra in 2006.
“Nana Patole’s candidature has created unease among a large section of the population in Nagpur and especially among Dalits. The reason behind this unrest is the role Patole played in shielding the culprits behind the brutal massacre of a Dalit Bhotmange family in Khairlanji village of Maharashtra in 2006,” said an email written by a Dalit activist to Rahul Gandhi.
The activist, a PhD student from Nagpur University who did not wish to disclose his name, has also expressed fears that Nagpur could witness caste tensions if Congress fields Patole.
“Despite being the headquarters of the RSS, our city (Nagpur) never witnessed caste or communal tensions. But Patole’s candidature threatens to pit Dalits against the OBCs in this city,” the Dalit activist has alleged, while appealing Gandhi to conduct an independent inquiry into Patole’s role in the Khairlanji lynching.
The Ambedkarite groups have organized a meeting in Nagpur on Wednesday, in which they are likely to pass a resolution to vote against the Congress if Patole is the party’s candidate from Nagpur.