After months of uncertainty, India has moved to intervene in the sale of a house in London where B R Ambedkar lived in 1921 as a student, with the Maharashtra government set to buy the property. The government plans to acquire and convert the house into a museum by April 14, Ambedkar Jayanti.
The two-storey apartment in north-west London covers 2,050 square feet. At the entrance is a blue plaque which says Ambedkar stayed there while studying at the London School of Economics (LSE) in 1921-22.
Maharashtra government’s intervention came when the state’s education minister Vinod Tawde, who was on an official trip to London, visited the house and met representatives of the Indian high commission. He was accompanied by Santosh Dass, president of Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations, UK (FABOUK), who led efforts to acquire the house after it came on the market last year. Tawde spoke to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who have him the go-ahead to purchase the property.
"The residence which will be converted into a museum will be open to public from April 14, which is Dr Ambedkar's birth anniversary," Tawde said. A statement issued by him in Marathi said the house will be bought for Rs 35 crore.
Dass said she was delighted with the Maharashtra government’s decision. Indian representatives would soon begin negotiations with the estate agent and house owner to complete the sale.
The house was put on the market for a minimum price of 3.1 million pounds last year. A private developer had placed a bid and completed initial formalities, but Dass alerted Maharashtra officials before the sale could be completed.
“India intervened at the right time. We are delighted that we will soon have a fitting memorial for Ambedkar and an international mission base. It was in London that Ambedkar formulated his views on eradication of caste-based discrimination, and the rights of women,” Dass told HT. Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash, who leads the Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh, thanked the Fadnavis government.