The centre has said it will develop places associated with Dalit icon BR Ambedkar as world class tourist attractions. Called Ambedkar circuit, it will cover Mhow, Ambedkar’s birth place, Nagpur, where he converted to Buddhism, 26 Alipur Road, Delhi, where he lived during his last years and Dadar in Maharashtra where he was cremated.
Sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to develop these places as Tirtha Sthal (pilgrimage centre) for Dalits and is likely to announce the circuit at Mhow on Ambedkar’s birth anniversary on April 14.
Delivering the Ambedkar Memorial Lecture last Monday, Modi called himself an “Ambedkar bhakt” even as he took swipes at the Congress saying how he resigned from Jawaharlal Nehru’s Cabinet over the issue of women’s rights in the Hindu Code Bill.
Since it came to power in May 2014, the NDA government has organised a series of events to drive home the message about its commitment to the ideals of Ambedkar. The NDA government is celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of the architect of the constitution and has announced a number of programmes to commemorate the occasion.
Other than its decision to build an Ambedkar memorial at 26 Alipur Road in Delhi where he breathed his last, the government also launched a commemorative stamp in his honour. These moves drew snipes from opposition parties that the BJP was trying to “appropriate” Ambedkar.
“The idea (behind the Ambedkar circuit) is to develop infrastructure around the memorials in these places so that it becomes convenient for tourists to visit them,” a social justice ministry official said.
The Ambedkar circuit will be similar to the famous Buddha circuit which covers Sarnath-Gaya-Varanasi, the places linked to Buddha.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley in his 2014 budget had allocated Rs 500 crore to develop world class tourist amenities in these places.
The move to develop an Ambedkar circuit is in line with the Modi’s recent statements on Ambedkar, who he said is a global icon, and should not be limited as a messiah for the Dalits.
“To call Ambedkar the messiah only of the Dalits is a great injustice to him. He raised his voice against any and all injustice. We should not limit him to our borders. The way the world sees Martin Luther King, Baba Saheb should be seen like that. He was the voice of the downtrodden,” Modi said delivering the 6th Ambedkar memorial lecture on Monday.