Hitting out at the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that parties that sought votes in the name of Dr B R Ambedkar “tried to erase his contribution in nation-building and did little to build the Ambedkar International Centre conceived 23 years ago”.
Inaugurating the Dr Ambedkar International Centre here, he said, “It is a different matter that they are thinking more of Baba Bhole (Shiva) than Babasaheb… even that is okay.” Modi was alluding to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s recent temple visits and claims of being a Shiva devotee.
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,” he said.
Noting that the Ambedkar centre would be an important centre for research on social and economic issues, the Prime Minister said, “Such was the power of Babasaheb’s ideas that despite attempts in the past to crush his contribution and philosophy in nation-building, these people failed to wipe out his ideals from people’s memory.” Modi added that he would not be wrong in saying that “more people are still influenced by his ideas than the family for which such efforts were made”.
The Prime Minister said that there are forces trying to divide the country on caste lines, and the present generation understands well that India cannot progress with pace if such divisions are allowed.
“But I see hope in today’s generation…. Things are changing… the ills of society are being removed,” he said, adding that he would like to give credit to the young generation for the changes that were witnessed in the last 15-20 years.
The PM said the government had developed five places associated with Ambedkar into pilgrimage spots. These sites in Delhi, Mumbai, Nagpur, Mhow and London were like a homage from the present generation, he said.
Mentioning statistics from the NDA government’s schemes like Ujjawala, Mission Indradhanush and Mudra, Modi said, “You will be surprised to know that 60 per cent beneficiaries of the Mudra scheme are Dalits, backward communities and adivasis.”
He said the Ambedkar centre will be an inspiration for the promotion of the Dalit icon’s thoughts and teachings, and that it will be a fusion of Buddhist and modern architecture. “I think this centre is for the youth… where they can see and understand the vision of Babasaheb Ambedkar,” Modi said.