Devyani is well educated and can be a good communicator at national and international level says Athawale.
Minister of State for social justice and empowerment Ramdas Athawale has clarified that he only had recommended former Deputy Consul-General of India in New York Devyani Khobragade’s name to be appointed as his private secretary but never lobbied for the same. Earlier there were media reports about Athawale being keen on appointing Devyani as his private secretary. A source close to the Republican Party of India (RPI-A) chief said an order appointing Ms Khobragade was passed few days back.
Refuting the rumour he informed Afternoon Voice, “I had never taken a firm stand about appointing Devyani as my personal secretary but I had felt that she was an ideal contender for the job.”
“Devyani has already proved herself at the international arena and has wide experience. Since Devyani is a Dalit and she is well aware about the preachings and ideology followed by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar,” said Athawale.
“She is well educated and can be a good communicator at national and international level. Devyani can also assist me in the day to day functioning of the Department of Social Justice. She can do justice to this job,” he added.
Khobragade was selected for the Chevening Rolls-Royce scholarship in 2012. She is proficient in English, Hindi, Marathi and German. Devyani’s father Uttam Khobragade, a former IAS officer, is the national executive president of RPI-A, which is part of the Bharatiya Janta Party-Shiv Sena-led Mahayuti (grand alliance) in Maharashtra, and had joined the party in September 2014.
The 1999-batch IFS officer was arrested on December 12, 2013, in the US when she was India’s Deputy Consul-General in New York on visa fraud charges and for allegedly providing false declarations in a visa application for her maid.
She later was released on a $250,000 bond. The incident had triggered a diplomatic row between the US and India.
Earlier Athawale was inducted into the Modi government in order to reach out the Dalits ahead of the crucial Uttar Pradesh assembly elections scheduled to be held next year.
Mr Athawale, who heads the Republican Party of India (Athawale), an NDA ally, has been a trade unionist and is known more for his blunt remarks and popular laughter-evoking speeches in Parliament and outside.
He has been part of NDA since 2011 after he quit the NCP-Congress alliance. He currently represents Maharashtra in the Rajya Sabha and has been a three-time Lok Sabha member.
The RPI(A) leader had last represented Pandharpur constituency in the Lok Sabha from 2004 to 2009, having been first elected to the lower house in 1998.