The Maharashtra government has written to the Centre expressing its wish to acquire a residential property in London where Dr B R Ambedkar lived while studying at the London School of Economics in 1921-22.
The 2,050 sq ft property on King Henry’s Road, London, is expected to cost an estimated Rs 40 crore. The state government stepped in with its proposal to buy the property after it came to know earlier this month that it has been put up for auction.
State Water Conservation Minister and Dalit leader Nitin Raut told The Indian Express, “The Federation of Ambedkarites and Buddhist Organisation (FABO), UK wrote a letter to the Maharashtra government and the Centre, informing about the auction of the private property for Rs 40 crore. Since I am associated with Ambedkarite associations, they approached me requesting for help to acquire the property through the state’s and Centre’s intervention.”
With Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar supporting the cause as the state has a huge following of the Dalit icon, the cost was not a big factor. Raut said, “It is not a question of possession of the property. But symbolic gesture to salvage the historic house and retain its significance.”
State Minister for Social Justice Shivajirao Moghe has signed the proposal, which would require the intervention of the Centre as it related to a property in London. “The Ministry of Social Justice has given its written approval for the project. The chief minister is also in favour of acquiring Ambedkar’s home in London. The state has communicated the same to the Ministry of External Affairs and British High Commission in Mumbai,” Raut said.
In its letter to the Centre, the state government said, “A rare and timely opportunity has arisen to purchase the former London residence of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar… as the landlord has published an advertisement for sale of the house. It is a historic place where Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar lived in 1921-22.”
Raut said, “Financially, it is absolutely not a constraint as the total cost required is just Rs 40 crore.” Citing an example, he said, “The state government on Tuesday gave its approval for Rs 130 crore Dr B R Ambedkar Convention Centre at Nagpur. Compared to that, this project involves only Rs 40 crore.”