Thackeray under fire over 'U-turn' on varsity renaming

Thackeray under fire over 'U-turn' on varsity renaming

"From 1994 to 2011, Thackeray has done a 180-degree turn on the renaming issue," leading Marathi newspaper Loksatta claimed in its lead story today.

Marathi channel Star Majhaa aired a special programme last night, highlighting the change of stance, apparently with an eye on Dalit votes, in backdrop of his cosying up with new-found ally, Dalit leader Ramdas Athawale.

"At a public meeting in Parbhani on February 21, 1994, Thackeray said he will continue to oppose the varsity renaming till he is alive," the newspaper said.

"Thackeray also said that Dalits were paying obeisance at the university gate, thinking it was the Chaityabhoomi," it said. Chaityabhoomi, in Dadar area, is where Ambedkar was cremated and lakhs of his followers visit the memorial on his anniversary each year.

Rubbishing critics who questioned the contradiction of his alliance with Athawale, whose party RPI has a large Dalit following in the state, and also his old stance against the renaming, Thackeray had said on May 16: "Let me make it clear once again. I never opposed renaming of the university. I had suggested that the name Marathwada University be retained and Ambedkar's name be added to it."