Ramdas Athawale Birthday Special: Lesser- known facts about the crusader of Dalits

Ramdas Athawale represents Maharashtra in the Rajya Sabha and has also represented Pandharpur for two years. He is also known for his streak of activism, having taken part in the Dalit Panther movement in 1974.

His close affiliation with the Republic Party of India has precipitated close relations with the INC.

He's the founder of the Indian Republican Party. He is Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment of the Government of Modi.

Athawale has been editor of the weekly magazine Bhumika and is a founding member of Parivartan Sahitya Mahamandal.

His public expression has generous dollops of irony, mainly due to his original four-line couplets. He is an instant poet and can easily coin a couplet on something contemporary, from famine to the ridicule of his rivals.

Yet his favourite literary fancy is self-deprecating sarcasm and an unbridled show of his ministerial aspirations. Now, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing him as Minister, Athawale's wish has been granted.

Ramdas Bandu Athawale, 57, President of the Indian Republican Party (Athawale faction) and Rajya Sabha MP nominated BJP Maharashtra, is potentially the most influential mass leader in Dalit politics in Maharashtra.

Athawale had not always been greedy for names. In the 1970s, he was a firebrand protester who, under the umbrella of Dalit Panthers (a political movement influenced by the Black Panther Party of the United States), joined causes dear to Dalit.

People who tracked him say that he would be of benefit to the BJP in the Uttar Pradesh polls and the Mumbai municipal polls, where there are as many as 60 civic offices with a heavy Dalit presence.

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