Nagpur, Oct 1 (UNI) In a bid to shed the image of being a party exclusively of the Dalits, the Republican Party of India - Athavale faction (RPI-A) will expand its base by including non-Dalits in its folds and giving them 60 per cent of the tickets for elections.
Speaking to newsmen here last night, RPI-A President Ramdas Athavale said as it celebrated its golden jubilee, the Party had decided to give membership to people from all sections of society.
''The target is to have 40 per cent dalits and 60 per cent non-dalits among the members. We will also give election tickets to dalits and non-dalits in the same proportion,'' he said.
''The common perception is that the RPI-A is a Party of the dalits only. We want to put an end to that image. We also want to grow as a party and become a force to reckon with on the political front,'' he added.
Asserting that a major part of the Party's agenda at present consisted of agitations on important issues, Mr Athavale said the party will now concentrate more on political activities. ''So far, 80 per cent of our activities consisted of agitations and 20 per cent of politics. The activities will now be 50 per cent agitation and 50 per cent politics,'' the RPI-A President said.
Mr Athavale is in the city for the golden jubilee celebrations of the foundation of the Republican Party of India. The celebrations were formally inaugurated by veteran journalist Kuldip Nayyar here today. Various sessions, including delegates' meeting and seminars, will be held today and tomorrow, with the main function being slated for Wednesday (October 3).
It was in Nagpur that the Republican Party of India was founded on October 3, 1957, barely months after Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar passed away on December 6, 1956. The party has since split into various factions, with some of them, including the Athavale, Khobragade and Kawade groups, celebrating the 50th anniversary in Nagpur.