Mumbai, May 30 (IANS) Rajya Sabha member Ramdas B. Athawale on Thursday took oath as a Union Minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government.
He was elected to the Upper House in 2014 and became a Minister of State in the first Prime Minister Narendra Modi government in 2016.
Athawale was involved in the Dalit politics from an early age, while simultaneously being active in Marathi theatre. He played the lead role in a Marathi film “Anyayacha Pratikar”.
After the crash of the Dalit Panther movement in 1974, the class 12 pass Athawale joined the Republican Party of India (RPI) faction among the dozen splinter groups, which later allied with the Congress.
Hoping to cash in on his backward image, he was made a Member of the Legilative Council (MLC) in Maharashtra and became a minister in the state governments under Chief Minister Sharad Pawar and later CM Sudhakarrao Naik.
Later, he was elected thrice to the Lok Sabha from Mumbai in 1998, 1999 and 2004, but lost the 2009 elections from Shirdi seat and split from the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance.
Athawale, 59, joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine, contested the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation elections, and later the Assembly and parliament elections.
As the RPI chief, he has been regularly wooed by all political parties lured by the support he reportedly commands among various Dalit factions, keeping him perpetually in the national and state political limelight.
When he launched the RPI’s Children’s Wing in 2017, he nominated his 12-year son as its chief.