Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Tuesday demanded that Dr Ambedkar Memorial in Delhi be accorded the same status as Rajghat and the government should acquire property nearby, including private residences, to build a grand memorial befitting the stature of the architect of the constitution.
Paswan was speaking at the birth anniversary celebrations organised by the Madhya Pradesh government at Ambedkar’s birthplace here. While the demand of such a memorial has been raised by Dalit organisations from time to time, this is the first time a Union minister made such a statement at an official function.
Paswan also advocated reservation in the private sector and the judiciary. In what seemed a contradiction to his championing the cause of Scheduled Castes, Paswan went on to say that the moment the castes of MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and PM Narendra Modi are invoked, their status appears to diminish by half. “Why invoke chaiwala or backward class while talking of Modi. This should stop,’’ he said.
The minister also wondered why Scheduled Caste members cannot identify themselves as Ambedkarites rather than their sub-castes. He praised the BJP and the RSS for promoting social harmony and attempting to dissolve caste boundaries. The present memorial in MP has come up on a piece of land given by the Army when the BJP government was in power in the state under Sunder Lal Patwa. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced that his government will demand more land from the Army near the memorial and allocate equal land elsewhere.