After Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Congress and the BJP are now engaged in a fierce battle to appropriate the legacy of BR Ambedkar.
The Congress has drawn up an elaborate plan for year-long celebrations to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of the architect of the Constitution. The programme will be launched with a rally at Mhow in Madhya Pradesh, the Dalit icon’s birth place, on April 14. Both Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi are expected to attend it.
Throughout the year, the Congress will organise seminars, conventions to disseminate Ambedkar’s ideology and also discuss his contribution to the making of the Constitution.
Over the years, the Congress has been desperately to win back the support of Dalits who had moved to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for years now. However, a major chunk of the Dalit vote bank gravitated towards the BJP in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Keen to retain it in the upcoming assembly elections in Bihar, the BJP cleared the decks for construction of Ambedkar’s memorial in Mumbai.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the project on April 14.
It was the UPA government that had cleared the proposal to hand over a part (12 acres) of now defunct Indu Mills land to the Maharashtra government for construction of the memorial in November 2013. On his part, Rahul has repeatedly stressed the need to empower the Dalits and hit out at BSP chief Mayawati on many occasions in the past.