Nagpur: All India Congress Committee scheduled caste department head and state Congress executive president Nitin Raut has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of insulting Dalit icon and architect of Constitution Bhimrao Ambedkar. According to him, a few Ambedkar’s pictures, images and statues that Modi received as gifts were part of the collection sold though e-     auction and were hopelessly underbid. The e-auction closed on ThursdAy.

“That the pictures and images of Babasaheb Ambedkar are put on sale shows that Modi has no place in his home or heart and   has utter disregard for the man who is seen world over as symbol of knowledge. Several renowned universities across the       globe have installed Ambedkar’s statues or have held him in high esteem for his scholarship,” said Raut adding that those who gifted these items to Modi would be pained by the ‘public sale’ of something they revered.

Raut, who is also the Congress candidate from Nagpur North seat and is in a tough fight with sitting BJP MLA Milind Mane and BSP’s Suresh Sakhare, said at a hurriedly called press conference that auctioning the memorabilia related to Ambedkar was a condemnable act. “Modi’s predecessors have put up such collection of gifts in museums. But apparently, Modi has no regard for them and put them for sale saying the funds raised would be used for social cause,” said Raut.

What has hurt the sentiment of Raut and his followers is that while Ambedkar memorabilia were sold for as low as between Rs10,000 and Rs15,000 a piece, a picture of Modi himself with his mother fetched over Rs20 lakh in the auction done through official website “Who gave them the right to fix the prices of national icons,” Raut thundered. “Such insult of Ambedkar stems from Modi’s upbringing in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh culture,” Raut added.

To be fair, the base price fixed for Ambedkar picture was Rs3,000, while that of Modi picture was Rs1,000. Raut alleged Modi picture was paid astronomical sum by those close to the prime minister or those trying to curry favors from him.

A Mumbai-based political strategist, Rajesh Rathod, who was also present at the press conference, helped Raut with the issue    to impress the sizeable Ambedkarite voters in his constituency.

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