Hitting out at the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said parties seeking votes in B R Ambedkar’s name tried to erase his contribution in nation-building and did little to construct the Ambedkar International Centre conceived 23 years ago.
Modi, who inaugurated the centre in Janpath, also took a jibe at Rahul Gandhi’s comment on being a Shiva devotee and said some parties talked more of Baba Bhole (Lord Shiva) than Babasaheb. Such was the incredible strength of Ambedkar that his philosophy and contribution in nation-building could not be erased despite the efforts of some people, the PM said.
“Such was his incredible strength, that when years after his demise efforts were made by such people to crush his philosophy, when efforts were made to erase his contribution towards nation-building, his ideals could not be wiped outfrom people’s memory,” he said. He said he would not be wrong in saying that “more people are still influenced by his ideas than the family for which such efforts (to erase his contribution) were made”.
The PM said the idea to construct the centre was conceived in 1992. “Then nothing happened for 23 years…when our government came, we not only laid its foundation (in April 2015), but are also dedicating it to the nation today,” Modi said.
In a broadside against the Congress and Rahul Gandhi, who is poised to become party president, he said political parties who sought votes in the name of Ambedkar were perhaps not even aware that the project was pending. “It is a different matter that they are thinking more of Baba Bhole than Babasaheb… even that is okay,” he said.
The Congress vice-president had recently evoked Lord Shiva in reply to the BJP’s criticism that his temple visits in Gujarat were an election gimmick. “I am a devotee of Shiv. The BJP may say anything, but I will remain honest,” he had said in Ahmedabad.
The PM said in his address that there are forces trying to divide the country on caste lines. Caste divisions, he added, put brakes on the pace of development. Modi also lamented that Ambedkar’s dream of social democracy – where all have a say – is still unaccomplished. “But I see hope in today’s generation… things are changing… the ills of society are being removed,” he said.
He said the centre will be an inspiration for the promotion of the Dalit icon’s thoughts and teachings and an important place for research on social and economic issues. Modi added that the government had developed five places related to Babasaheb Ambedkar into pilgrimage spots. The five pilgrimage spots – in Delhi, Mumbai, Nagpur, Mhow and London – were like a homage from the present generation. “I think that this centre is for the youth…where they can see and understand the vision of Babasaheb Ambedkar,” the PM said. The centre, he said, was a fusion of Buddhist and modern architecture.