Ramdas Athawale slams opposition over Maoist threat letter issue

Jalna, Union minister and RPI leader Ramdas Athawale today lambasted opposition parties for doubting the genuineness of a letter suggesting a Maoist plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said the opposition should not play politics over the issue of national security. “There are many issues you can politicise. But the opposition should not politicise this issue as it is related to national security,” Athawale said at a press conference here in North Maharashtra.

He was responding to a query about some leaders’ remarks on an alleged Maoist letter recovered from a person arrested in connection with the violence at Bhima-Koregaon near Pune in early January. The purported letter allegedly mentioned of a plan to “assassinate” Modi in “another Rajiv Gandhi-type incident”, the police had told a court. NCP chief Sharad Pawar had questioned the authenticity of the letter and said the BJP was playing a “threat letter card” to gain sympathy.

Questioning the veracity of the threat letter, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram had said it is “unverified”, and noted it was government’s duty to provide foolproof protection to the prime minister. Athawale justified of the arrest five people, including a lawyer and a woman professor, in connection with the January 1 caste clash that had left one person dead. The Dalit leader said the police have enough evidence to link them to the Naxal movement. However, Athawale disagreed with the police claim that organisers of Elgar Parishad, an event held on the eve of the violence, had incited the clash.

Asked about the state government’s “inaction” against right-wing leader Sambhaji Bhide, accused of inciting the riot, Athawale said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has told him the police had no evidence against him. The RPI leader mocked at Bhide’s claim that a number of couples were blessed with sons after eating mangoes from his orchard. The government should take action against Bhide for his “inflammatory” and “absurd” statements, he said. Asked if the reservation policy will take a hit by the Centre’s decision to allow lateral entry of professionals as joint secretaries in the government, Athawale said he did not know about it.”I will look in the matter,” he said.

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