The demolition of Ambedkar Bhavan in Mumbai became the latest rallying point of the Opposition against the BJP-led NDA in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
During Zero Hour — the period where members are allowed to mention urgent matters of importance -- CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury raised the issue, invoking support from many Opposition leaders including BSP’s Mayawati and Congress’ Anand Sharma.
“The Ambedkar Bhavan in Mumbai represented heritage of our freedom and Dalit movement. Ambedkar set up that place for Dalits to who came to Mumbai. That became the centre of the dalit movement of our country. It is not just a heritage structure. The building symbolizes Ambedkar’s dream of one man, one value,” Yechury said.
In his reply, social justice minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said that he has sought a report from the state government. “It should have been better if the structure had not been demolished. If required, we will talk to the state government to rebuild the structure there,” Gehlot said.
After Yechury finished his speech, BSP chief Mayawati targeted the Centre and the BJP-led state government over the demolition. “Ambedkar had bought land to create an establishment for dalits. The state government conspired to demolish the structure. One one hand, the Centre says it will buy and restore the room in London which Ambedkar used but here, in our own land, it is allowing a Ambedkar’s structure to be demolished.”
Congress leader Anand Sharma supported Yechury and said, “The government can’t be silent on the matter which has been raised.”
Last month, Dadar’s famous Ambedkar Bhavan was demolished overnight, sparking outrage among the leader’s followers.
The building, situated a stone’s throw from Dadar railway station, was initially used by Dr Ambedkar as library and a press to print and disseminate literature opposing the caste system. Later, it was also used as a meeting hall, hosting public and private events by Ambedkar followers.