It will be 62 years since the Indian Constitution came into force, but the man who drafted it, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, does not feature in the list of 14 national leaders who have a memorial in their name in Delhi.
This was revealed in a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query put forth by Dadar resident Chandrakant Bhandare over the past year.
What is worse is that in their replies to Bhandare, neither the central home affairs ministry nor the urban development ministry in charge of land allotment know the policy for allotting land for memorials of national leaders in Delhi. In their reply, these departments said that ‘information is not available’ on whether Ambedkar is a national leader.
The Central Public Works department, in its reply, sent a list of ‘location of memorial land of national leaders’ which included 14 names including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Charan Singh, Gyani Zail Singh but do not mention Ambedkar.
“A group of Ambedkar sympathisers like me, who have been fighting for the Indu mill land issue, wanted to know why land was not put aside for a
national memorial for him. Why have Congress leaders been given this status and not the father of the Indian Constitution? Is he not considered a national leader?
They do not seem to have answers,” said Bhandare. For the last decade, Dalits have been fighting to get a memorial for Ambedkar at the now defunct Indu mill land in Mumbai. The state government finally took this issue up seriously and agreed build a memorial on the land ‘in-principle’ early this month in lieu of the upcoming civic polls.
Anandraj Ambedkar, who led the agitation at Indu mills in December 2011 that forced the Congress to give in to their demands said, “The Congress does not want to recognise him and give him the respect he deserves.”
Republican Party of India leader Ramdas Athawale who recently joined hands with Shiv Sena for not having got their ‘due’ from the Congress said, “We will protest against this and make sure that Congress keeps up to its promise on the memorial.” Ambedkar was given the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, in 1990, 34 years after his demise.