Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Mumbai on Sunday to lay the foundation stone of the Dr B R Ambedkar memorial to at Indu Mills compound and attend a couple of other events. While the BJP is trying to make the Indu Mills event a success, Uddhav Thackeray, president of alliance partner Shiv Sena, has decided to skip the event.
Modi will also participate in the foundation laying ceremony for the Metro corridor at the Bandra Kurla Complex after which he will address a public meeting, besides attending the foundation laying event for the fourth container terminal of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT).
The BJP fast tracking the Ambedkar memorial at Indu Mills, and purchasing Ambedkar’s London House over the last one year is being perceived in political circles as setting the stage for “Jai Bhim” (hailing Ambedkar). The BJP-led government is going all out to make the event a success with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis instructing party workers to ensure no die-hard Ambedkarities is left out of the event. The BJP is ensuring that all its smaller alliance partners are part of the event. Fadnavis described Modi’s planned visit to Chaityabhoomi and bhoomi pujan at Indu Mills as a “historic moment” and added that Ambedkar, who strived for social justice and equality, is still relevant and holds universal appeal, cutting across geographical and political boundaries.
Although BJP leaders tried to persuade Uddhav Thackeray to attend the event, their efforts were in vain. Fadnavis sent industries minister Prakash Mehta to personally invite Uddhav to the PM’s function. A senior Sena leader told the Sunday Express, “Uddhavji is going to visit drought hit Beed on Sunday. It was a scheduled visit. He cannot cancel the drought tour.”
However, political managers said Uddhav wants to show his independent identity vis a vis BJP and the PM.
Thackeray’s decision to skip the event and maintain distance from Modi is also perceived as a political ploy to keep the party’s constituents intact and keep the ruling BJP on tenterhooks. As a senior Sena (MP) said, “Let us not forget that BJP also needs us to keep the government in power in Maharashtra.”
State BJP president Raosaheb Danve said, “Both the chief minister and myself personally invited every alliance leaders. We also invited leaders associated with the Ambedkar movement and the cause, for the event.”
Modi will also visit Chaityabhoomi near Shivaji Park, where Ambedkar was cremated. Lakhs of Ambedkar followers visit Chaityabhoomi on December 6, his death anniversary.
The government plans to build a memorial at a cost of Rs 475 crore. It will feature a 150 feet tall statue of Ambedkar and 140 feet high dome stupa. The memorial complex will have a research centre, auditorium, library and museum, park, ponds and plaza. The meditation centre will accommodate 13,000 people. The life and works of Ambedkar will be displayed at the memorial.
Several union ministers and cabinet ministers will attend the function. Last month, the BJP completed the process of acquiring a 2050 square feet property in London where Ambedkar lived during 1921-22.