Mumbai - Dalits across Maharashtra will launch an agitation to protest the "derogatory" depiction of B.R. Ambedkar in a textbook, Republican Party of India leader Ramdas Athawale said Monday, demanding withdrawal of the book.
Addressing a media gathering here, Athawale, whose party is a constituent of the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party led combine, also demanded union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal's resignation under whose aegis "this textbook has been prepared and cleared for Class 11 political science student".
The textbook has been published by National Council of Education Research & Training (NCERT), under the human resources development ministry.
Atahwale demanded that NCERT must withdraw the textbook, depicting Ambedkar - among the framers of the Indian Constitution - in a â€śhighly derogatory manner through a cartoon".
The objectionable cartoon, credited to Shankar's Childrenâ€™s Book Trust appears in chapter I, titled â€śIndian Constitution at Workâ€ť in the political science subject in the Central Board of
Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum.
Discussing the making of the Indian Constitution post-Independence, the chapter carried a small box item, which according to Athawale, "lampoons B.R. Ambedkar astride a snail with reins in
hand and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru standing behind brandishing a whip".
Athawale said that his party has already written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sibal, taking umbrage at the "disparaging figure" in the NCERT textbook.
â€śHowever, so far we have not received any reply from them. Even the content describing the making of constitution is also quite biased. It tries to project B.R. Ambedkar as a mere critic and
that the drafts were prepared by several committees formed at the time,â€ť Athawale alleged.
"We have never claimed that the entire Constitution was written by Ambedkar, but the fact remains that the final draft was not only cleared by him but also envisaged by him.â€ť
â€śEven leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru and other political stalwartsâ€ś of the time admired Ambedkarâ€™s legal acumen and insight into world constitutions,â€ť Athawale said.
The RPI chief said that the Dalits wanted an immediate withdrawal of the textbook and also rectification of the objectionable chapter in it.
â€śSibal, a lawyer who claims to be a constitutional expert must resign. It is strange that such drawings should be put up in front of the innocent minds of the students. It is not an imagined insult, anybody who sees it will find shocking,â€ť Athawale asserted.
If the demands were not met, he warned that Dalits across the state would agitate on the streets to voice their protests.