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PM Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi in fresh war of words over BR Ambedkar

At an election rally in Aligarh, Modi spoke at length about the contribution of Ambedkar, India’s first law and justice minister who campaigned against discrimination against Dalits and untouchability.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2019 00:42 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Bhimrao Ambedkar,Narendra Modi,Constitution
People gather at the statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar at Pimpri in Pune, on Sunday. (HT Photo)

A war of words on the legacy and work of Bhimrao Ambedkar broke out on Tuesday, coinciding with the birth anniversary of the late leader who is considered the architect of the Indian Constitution.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the Congress of insulting Ambedkar and not giving him his due even as Congress president Rahul Gandhi, in a veiled dig at the Centre, said those who weaken the principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity are doing a disservice to Ambedkar’s memory.

At an election rally in Aligarh, Modi spoke at length about the contribution of Ambedkar, India’s first law and justice minister who campaigned against discrimination against Dalits and untouchability.

Because of Ambedkar, a person from scheduled caste has become President (Ram Nath Kovind) and another from a farmer’s family has become the Vice-President (Venkaiah Naidu), Modi said. Thanks to Babasaheb’s Constitution, a “chaiwala’ (tea-seller)” is holding the PM’s post, Modi said, referring to himself. “We should not forget what was done to Babasaheb…The social circumstances in which Babasaheb attained such great heights, were extraordinary and unprecedented. This is a reason why the Congress could not tolerate Babasheb,” the Prime Minister said, referring the term the late leader’s supporters use to describe him.

On Twitter, Gandhi, too, paid tributes to Ambedkar and said, “On Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s jayanti, let us re-dedicate ourselves to the 4 universal values of JUSTICE, LIBERTY, EQUALITY & FRATERNITY enshrined in our Constitution. Those who pay him tributes on this day, while insidiously weakening these values, do his memory disservice.”

His sister and Congress general secretary, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, alleged there were attempts to destroy the Constitution. At a road show in Assam’s Silchar, Priyanka Gandhi said the Constitution was not being respected today.

“It is ‘Mahapurush (great man)’ Ambedkarji’s birth anniversary. He laid the foundation of this country through the Constitution. Today, you are seeing that the Constitution is not respected and an attempt is being made to destroy it,” she said.

In New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma asked Modi to give an account of his five-year rule to the people of the country as a tribute to Ambedkar. “The PM is trying to control and change the narrative because he has no courage to face real issues,” he alleged.

Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati, who has a significant support base among Dalits, hit out at ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah’s alleged remark that her party remembered Ambedkar only during elections.

Mayawati tweeted: “The statement of BJP chief Amit Shah that the BSP remembers Babasaheb Ambedkar only during elections is untrue and mischievous.”

She said the BSP was inspired by Ambedkar, and her party was working for the welfare of all sections of the society. “BJP leaders have now forgotten development, black money, corruption, poverty, unemployment and farmers. Now they have started raking up patriotism and national security,” she tweeted.

In Gujarat, Shah, participated in a road show in Kalol assembly segment where he paid tributes to Ambedkar.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Apr 15, 2019 00:42 IST