Speaking against fasts as a form of protest, chairman of Gujarat Sahitya Akademi Vishnu Pandya said on Friday Manusmriti – the Hindu law book – had a good side to it which people should seek out. Pandya was speaking at a function to discuss two books published by the Akademi – one on unsung heroes of Ambedkar Movement in Gujarat and a collection of poetry on Dr Ambedkar between 1930-1956 – at M J Library in Ahmedabad on Friday.
Pandya also termed Dalit youth leader and independent MLA from Vadgam constituency Jignesh Mevani’s call to Dalits to not allow BJP leaders to touch statues of Dr Ambedkar on his birth anniversary on April 14 as a “new kind of discrimination”. Without naming Mevani, he said, “Some so-called leaders with big ambition, but without vision say that we (Dalits) have the right over Dr Ambedkar and nobody can garland his statue. This is old discrimination in a new form.”
Quoting Ambedkar, Pandya said that people will have to better themselves so that the Constitution can be effective and added how Ambedkar had back then asked people to shun non-cooperation, civil disobedience, fasts etc. “Ambedkar had said that now this is democracy. People’s voice. We have election, we have representation. So, we will have to shun all this – non-cooperation, civil disobedience, fasts etc. Ambedkar had said this. And he had said it rightly,” Pandya said.
He added even after that people continued to protest through different means, like fast, as there was no other better way to protest. “We have not been able to devise any better way to register protest, which we should do,” Pandya said.