Maharashtra wants to buy Ambedkar’s London home

The 2,050 sq ft property on King Henry’s Road, London, is expected to cost an estimated Rs 40 crore.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai | Updated: September 11, 2014 9:00 am
The property will cost Rs 40 crore. (Source: Express photo) The property will cost Rs 40 crore. (Source: Express photo)

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.”

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  1. A
    ameet Bhaiya
    Sep 11, 2014 at 8:52 am
    What will be achieved by buying a property that Dr Ambedkar sta in almost 100 years ago? The word "use" is really meant in that context. If you set up a museum , it achieves some aspects of making everyone aware of our history, culture and and our progress over the years. The government has only "advertised" this because of the upcoming elections. Also, the government in UK has no right to force someone to sell/give away their private/public property. Even UK government for its own needs buys property at market rates in compeion to open bidding if required.
    1. A
      Sep 11, 2014 at 4:58 am
      Why should the Maharashtra government buy a house in London, that no one will use, no will see and will barely have any use. Plus after purchase a fauj of people will be hired to maintain and keep it further causing useless expenditure, remember London is not a cheap place to live either. If they decide to give it to an NGO, what is the use? The NGO should buy it at its own cost and funds.Public money should not be wasted for no reason. Nostalgia doesn't allow frivolous expenditure.
      1. A
        atul kulkarni
        Sep 11, 2014 at 1:28 am
        instead invest that 40 crore for the upliftment of dalits !
        1. M
          Sep 11, 2014 at 11:15 am
          Govt of Maharashtra should make all effortst to buy London House
          1. R
            Sep 11, 2014 at 8:19 am
            @Anant, what do you mean no one will use? Does anyone "use" the artifacts stored in museums world over? Does anyone "use" the palaces and forts maintained by ASI? They help people understand history or a persons life and get inspired. This house will serve a similar purpose for followers of Babasaheb.
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