Describing Dalit leader Dr B R Ambedkar as a victim of “political untouchability”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today credited the key architect of the Constitution for his own growth from a humble background.
He also said it would be a disrespect for B R Ambedkar if he is only viewed as a “messiah” of the oppressed and the downtrodden and added that the first Law Minister of the country had worked for the welfare of the entire humanity.
“Personally, I think had Ambedkar not been there, where would have been Narendra Modi?” the Prime Minister said.
Attacking successive opposition governments at the Centre for not giving due respect to Ambedkar, he said the social reformer faced social untouchability in his life and was also facing “political untouchability after his death…governments which were formed due to the Constitution framed by Ambedkar perhaps had problems in finalising plans for the Dr Ambedkar International Centre.”
He said when supporters of Ambedkar thought of establishing the Centre in 1992, the files kept moving back and forth for over 20 years.
“When the responsibility came upon me, I was perturbed why this (delay) has happened. But I decided that while 20 years have been wasted, the project should be completed in 20 months,” Modi said at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Centre on Janpath.
Modi said “in a way” the memorial centre is also a “victim” of the political untouchability.
In an attack on rival political parties, Modi said people who have not read Ambedkar’s works are delivering discourse on his life. “How will those not willing to embrace him will try to read his works?” Modi said.
Modi said while most labour reforms are attributed to the Left parties, it was Ambedkar who worked to ensure they get better rights at workplace way back in 1942. He said Ambedkar was behind brining down the working hours for labours from 12 to 8 hours by taking up the issue with British administrators.
The Prime Minister said there was not even a trace or hint of malice in the Constitution of India despite the intense social abuse Ambedkar had faced at every step of his life.
He said Ambedkar had created great independent institutions such as the Election Commission and Finance Commission in which the entire nation had immense faith even today.
“While we have implemented the decision of devolution of funds to the states, the root lies with institutions like the Finance Commission envisaged by Babasaheb,” Modi said.
While in developed countries, women had to fight for years to get the voting right, Ambedkar ensured that women have equal voting rights.
Modi said laws like Hindu Marriage Act, Succession Act and Maintenance Act are some of the the key examples to prove that he believed in women’s empowerment.
The Prime Minister was of the view that while referring to social empowerment, Ambedkar’s messages must taken across the world on the lines of Martin Luther King. He said the memorial centre should make efforts in this regard.
Earlier, Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot said that the Centre is taking steps for acquiring a house at London which was used by Ambedkar during his stay abroad for studies.
He also said that the residence in Alipore Road in Delhi, where B R Ambedkar died, will be developed into a grand memorial.