Join army, get good food and rum: Athawale

Join army, get good food and rum: Athawale

In a shocking statement, union minister of state for social justice and empowerment and RPI president Ramdas Athawale said that more Dalit youths must join the army as good food and rum is available instead of country-made liquor.

“The army provides good food and liquor. Instead of consuming country liquor while being unemployed, Dalit youths must join armed forces – Army, Navy and Air Force, where they can get rum,” Athawale told reporters in Pune sparking off a major controversy.

The veteran politician also said that all those who join the army do not get martyred. “More people die in accidents and heart attacks,” he said, adding that he would discuss the issue of reservation in armed forces for Dalits with defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman very soon.

Athawale was making a case for reservation of Dalits in the armed forces and that more Dalits should join the armed forces. “Dalit youths can contribute to the nation if they join the armed forces,” said Athawale, a Rajya Sabha member, who heads the RPI faction named after him.

Though Athawale’s comments were in lighter vein – and he himself laughed after the comments – it has not gone down well.

The video has gone viral on the social media - and people slammed Athawale for the insensitive comments.

The Sharad Pawar-led NCP has taken a strong objection the statement of Athawale. Athawale has made a mockery of himself by making this statement.  “Instead of propagating de-addiction amongst Dalit youths Athavale is promoting addiction to intoxicants which is quite contrary to his ministry of social justice and welfare. His statement has not gone well amongst the intellectuals of the Dalit community,” NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said.

Athawale seems to have forgotten that Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar had established the Mahar regiment only to enable the participation of Dalits in armed forces. Historically Dalits are known to be good at warfare and hence a pillar honouring Dalit soldiers was erected after the battle of Koregaon, he said.

“Athawale has thus insulted historical contribution of the Dalits in wars. I want to inform  Athavle that there are innumerable Dalits who have joined the Indian armed forces for the love of the country and not for a bottle of free rum,” he said.

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