Congress party leaders Ashok Chavan and Sanjay Nirupam, conducted a bhoomipujan (ground-breaking), at Indu Mills, Dadar, the location for the Dr B R Ambedkar Memorial, on Tuesday morning. The event saw a gathering of the party supporters as well as Ambedkar’s followers. While the Congress are being called out for trying to woo the Dalit vote bank, Mumbai regional Congress chief, Sanjay Nirupam said that the ceremony was conducted out of their own ‘emotional attachment’ to Ambedkar. Nirupam added that the BJP was “ignoring and insulting” Ambedkar by postponing the ceremony due to the unavailability of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Hundreds of Ambedkar’s followers waited in line to pay their respects at Chaityabhoomi on his 124th birth anniversary. While the general sentiment echoed was appreciation for the decision to construct the memorial, most did not care about the politics involved. “The memorial of Ambedkar should be constructed. It does not matter who does it in the end,” said Ranjit Kamble, a safety officer from Mumbai who had visited the memorial to pay homage.
“It is good that the government is building a memorial of Ambedkarji, but it is more important for us that his teachings are spread everywhere. That is how he we want him to be remembered,” said Pramod Sardar who traveled from Amravati along with his family and 17 others to visit the Chaityabhoomi.
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“Party politics should not get involved in this. Our great leader deserves a memorial to be constructed in his name but it should not be used as a tool to get votes,” said Siddharth Gautam, a resident of New Delhi who had traveled to Mumbai only to be part of the bhoomipujan.
The Mumbai Police had imposed a bandobast of 800 personnel at the Chaityabhoomi to ensure that Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations went off without any law and order problems.
“A total of 750 constables and 50 officers were enforcing bandobast at Chaityabhoomi. Additionally, the rest of the city was covered by existing police station staff, supplemented with four platoons of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF),” said Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni.