Dalit groups in the state had reason to celebrate on New Year eve as PM Manmohan Singh agreed in principle to allocate the entire 12.5-acre seaside plot housing the India United Mills in Dadar for a mega memorial to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Singh gave his nod following an hour-long meeting with a delegation of state politicians led by CM Prithviraj Chavan and MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre on Saturday.
A committee was immediately formed,under Chief Secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad and comprising textiles secretary,environment secretary, municipal commissioner of Mumbai,managing director of National Textile Corporation that owns the land and others,to study the modalities of the handover,including paying compensation to NTC. State Textiles Minister Arif Naseem Khan,also a member of the delegation,said the committee would consider options like giving TDR to NTC to be used in development of other mill properties in the city.
The PM was very positive about the plan for a memorial to Dr Ambedkar along with the expansion of the Chaityabhoomi site, Khan said. The committee will submit its report before January 31.
The Republican Sena welcomed the development on Sunday by organising victory meetings and bursting firecrackers. Even as a few hundred Ambedkar followers gathered at Ambedkar Bhavan in Dadar,Republican Sena\’s state president Kashinath Nikalje said Dalit groups were grateful for the announcement. It is a big day for us; there are celebrations across the state.
Thakre called the decision a tribute to Dr Ambedkar from the Congress. With the Ramdas Athavale-led RPI faction having joined the Shiv Sena-BJP combine for the coming elections to key municipal corporations,there has been a buzz around the Congress attempt to garner the support of Dalit groups. On Saturday,the party was quick to claim credit for following up on the 2003 promise to get the India United Mills land allocated for Chaityabhoomi expansion.
While the Shiv Sena and MNS were not represented in the delegation,the BJPs Vinod Tawde and Dr Ambedkars grandson Anandraj Ambedkar,founder of the Republican Sena,were also present at the meeting with the PM. Dr Singh reportedly promised to look into border dispute with Karnataka.