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Friday, 15 April 2016 | Venkaiah Naidu

After having ignored and insulted one of the greatest sons of India, Dr BR Ambedkar, when he was alive, and never having bothered to acknowledge posthumously his invaluable contribution to the building of a modern, pluralistic India, the Congress true to its charlatan character is seeking to appropriate his legacy as the nation pays homage to the chief architect of India’s Constitution on the occasion of the towering political leader’s 125th birth anniversary.

It is a known fact of history that Dr Ambedkar had to get elected to the Constituent Assembly from Bengal with the support of Muslim league. Again, it was the Congress candidate who defeated him in the first General Elections from the North Bombay lok Sabha seat in 1952. This was repeated in 1954 when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru ensured his defeat in the by-election.

To correctly understand how the Congress treated him earlier, one should refer to what the great icon himself had stated, “Having led the untouchables against the Congress for full five years in the Round Table Conference and in the joint Parliamentary Committee, I could not pretend to be unaffected by the results of the elections. To me the question was: Had the untouchables gone over to the CongressIJ Such a thing was to me unimaginable. For, I could not believe that the untouchables-apart from a few agents of the Congress who are always tempted by the Congress gold to play the part of the traitor — could think of going over to the Congress en masse forgetting how Mr Gandhi and the Congress opposed, inch by inch up to the very last moment, every one of their demands for political safeguards.”

Referring to the returns of the elections that took place in 1937, he mentions how the Congress advertised the election results to bolster up its claim to represent the untouchables. “The main point in the advertisement is that out of 151 seats assigned to the Scheduled Castes the independent labour Party which was organised by me got only 12 seats and the rest of the seats were captured by the Congress. The mess is served out from the Congress kitchen as conclusive proof to show that the Congress represents the untouchables,” he said, adding, “The Congress version of the results is an utter perversion. As a matter of fact the results of 1937 Election conclusively disprove the Congress claim to represent the untouchables”.

Apparently impressed with his scholarship, expertise in jurisprudence and leadership qualities, the British made him a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council between 1942 and 1946, even as the Congress opposed the move and continued to cold shoulder him. Important nuggets from history show that Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Dr Rajendra Prasad prevailed upon Nehru and played an important role in making Dr Ambedkar the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution in 1947. Although his inclusion in the Union Cabinet as law Minister was at Gandhiji’s insistence, Dr Ambedkar himself mentioned that he was not appointed to important Cabinet Committees such as Foreign Affairs Committee or the Defence Committee.

Apparently, there was no love lost between Nehru and Dr Ambedkar, who differed with the former on many important issues including the Hindu Code Bill which ultimately led to his exit from the Union Cabinet. The foreign policy, the manner in which the Kashmir problem was handled and the economic policies were among other important issues on which both the leaders had little in common.

Dr Ambedkar also opposed granting of Special Status to Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370. While these are historical facts, the new found love of the Congress for Dr Ambedkar is amusing to say the least. Incidentally, the questionable moral compass of the Congress has aptly been summed up by Babasaheb’s grandson, Prakash Ambedkar. In an interview to a newspaper, he rightly wondered why the Congress forgot to celebrate his 100th birth anniversary and pointed out that the new-found affection of the Congress for Dr Ambedkar was to regain the support of Dalits and consolidate their vote-bank. Warning that people would no longer be fooled by such gimmicks, he stated, “The greatest injustice ever done to Ambedkar when he was alive was by the Congress”.

It was only when the National Front ( supported by the BJP and the left) came to power that Dr Ambedkar was posthumously awarded the country’s highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna, and not during several decades of the opportunistic Congress rule. Similarly, the Congress needs to be reminded that Babasaheb’s portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament was unveiled when VP Singh was the Prime Minister.

Unlike the Congress which is wedded to politics of dynasty, the BJP is committed to the political upliftment of the downtrodden and vulnerable sections and to realising the dream of creating a caste-less society.

Coinciding with the 125th birth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar on Thursday, the Central Government in collaboration with States and panchayats is organising a 10-day ‘Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday Abhiyan’ (Village Self-Governance Campaign), which culminates in Panchayat Raj Day on April 24th 2016.

The campaign seeks to generate nationwide efforts to enhance social harmony across villages, strengthen Panchayati Raj, promote rural development and nurture farmers’ progress. Prime Minister, Narendra Modi will inaugurate the campaign at Mhow in Madhya Pradesh and address all the Gram Sabhas in the country from Jamshedpur on the concluding day on April 24.

From April 14 to 16, ‘Social Harmony Programmes’ in all gram panchayats will be held where villagers will honour Dr Ambedkar, and resolve to strengthen social harmony.

The other events during the 10-day period include ‘Village Farmer Assemblies’ in gram panchayats, a national meeting of tribal women gram panchayat presidents from Fifth Schedule Areas of 10 States at Vijaywada on April 19 and Gram Sabha meetings from April 21 to 24.

The NDA Government took notable steps to develop important milestone places related to the life of Dr Ambedkar as pancha teerthas:

  • Decision to observe April 14 every year as ‘Rashtirya Samrasata Diwas’.
  • Diksha Bhoomi in Nagpur at a cost of Rs9.41 crore.
  • National Memorial at 26, Alipur Road, where he spent his last days at a cost of around 100 crore.
  • Ambedkar International Centre at 15, Janpath to have Convention Centre and Virtual Museum at a cost of Rs200 crore.
  • Monument already built at Dr Ambedkar’s birth place in Mhow by BJP Government.
  • National Institute of Social Sciences at Mhow elevated to the status of University and named as Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University of Social Sciences.
  • Commemorative Coins and Stamps, National Essay Competition in all colleges and universities, all India online quiz, 100 scholars sent on a study tour to Columbia University, USA, london School of Economics, UK. A tableau was showcased during Republic Day.
  • Distance learning by Open University.
  • BJP-led Government in Maharashtra has acquired london House where he stayed during his studies and convert it into a Memorial.

This is the way the Government want to take teachings and preachings of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar to the younger generation.

The Congress, on its part, has only platitudes to offer, as a casual look at recent history proves.

Babasaheb does not belong to any party, he belongs to the nation.  Every party is at liberty to celebrate the jayanti.  It is unbecoming on the part of Congress which neglected Babasaheb to criticise the NDA Government and the BJP celebrating jayanti celebration. 

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