'We are of one blood. Find those responsible for garlanding
Dr Ambedkar's bust with slippers and hang them'
"My dear neo-Buddhist brothers, enough is enough. Let society not be held ransom
to someone's ugly machinations," Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray
told the dalits in Saamna, the Sena daily newspaper.
Addressing Chhagan Bhujbal as Lakhoba, after the treacherous character from
Vijay Tendulkar's controversial play Ghashiram Kotwal,
Thackeray stated that people like Lakhoba (aka Bhujbal)
and his political opponents were responsible for desecrating
Ambedkar's statue. The Sena leader blamed the renegade --
Bhujbal left the Sena in December 1991 -- for exploiting the
dalits for his political cause.
"Don't sacrifice your life for those trying to destabilise and worsen
the law and order machinery in Mumbai and Maharashtra," Thackeray said.
"To tell the truth, the Shiv Sena was never against dalit interests. Even today
we hold firm that your conversion to Buddhism could never
separate you from the mainstream."
"We look upon you with a sense
of unity. Had we decided to dig up the past, no one could have stopped us.
But that's not in our blood. We are of one blood. Don't get instigated
by what Lakhoba is preaching. Find those responsible for garlanding
Dr Ambedkar's bust with slippers and hang them, regardless of who
they are, Shiv Sainiks or from any other party."
Justifying the attack on Bhujbal's house by a mob of Shiv
Sainiks, he stated, "For the past few days, Lakhoba was giving subtle
signals in newspapers and Doordarshan.
If it can arouse you (dalits), it can also arouse anger and hatred in
my Shiv Sainiks. We are human beings after all."
Thackeray lashed out at the violence that erupted during
the Bombay bandh. "In the bandh you (dalits)
attacked our shakha in Bandra, damaged Chhatrapati Shivaji's bust,
and threw away the picture of my wife, who is like a 'mother' to my Shiv Sainiks.
I won't hold you responsible for the barbarism. Lakhoba should own
up the responsibility for the incident. Violence erupted because of his
castiest exhortations. We can prove that Lakhoba is trying to create
a rift between the dalits and the Sena. Instead of attacking each
other, think and then decide the course of action."
"How many times can we bear the blackmail of our government's
dismissal?" asked Thackeray. "We are
not greedy for power. With the people's support we can capture
power anytime. We don't care even if our government is
dismissed. But don't fall prey to Lakhoba's wicked plot of alienating
you from us."
Compiled by Prasanna D Zorey