Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is set to embark on a three-day visit to London with the prime minister to formally open a memorial to Dr BR Ambedkar there even as opposition parties targeted the government over not being invited for the event.
Fadnavis said the event is being organised by the British Consulate and will be a “small” one and, thus, the number of invitees are limited.
“The programme has been organised by the British Consulate with limited invitees. There will be no loudspeakers or firecrackers since it is a residential area. This will be a small event,” the chief minister, whose tour begins Thursday, told reporters in Mumbai.
The house will be developed into an international memorial to the architect of the Indian Constitution, he said.
“(Ambedkar) was a scholar and a multi-faceted personality; he wrote some research papers during the period he stayed there (at the London house). Along with these research papers, artifacts will also be kept on the first and second floors of the Ambedkar house,” Fadnavis said.
He added that two students, selected through a scholarship every year, will also get a chance to reside on the third floor.
Meanwhile, the proposed event prompted an attack from the opposition Congress and NCP who said that the government should refrain from politicising such issues.
“What do you expect from these RSS-minded politicians when they did not invite us for ‘Bhoomipujan’ for the Dr Ambedkar memorial at Indu Mills, where there were no restrictions,” charged Congress leader Sachin Sawant.
“They should at least stop politicising issues related to national leaders. They should first understand Ambedkar before they hold programmes,” he added.
Joining the attack, NCP leader Sachin Ahir said Ambedkar’s followers were smart enough to see through the BJP’s tactics of trying to gain “political brownie points”.
“This is not an issue which can be milked to gain political brownie points. Since they are doing it, Ambedkar’s followers will see through it,” Ahir said.
“At least as a mark of respect to senior people, be it from any political party, who had worked towards realising Ambedkar’s dream of India, they should have been invited,” he said.
Maharashtra government had in January this year decided to buy the House at 10, Kings Henry Road in London where Ambedkar lived during 1921-22. It finally took possession in September of the 2,050-sq.ft three-storey house, Ambedkar’s lodgings when he was pursuing doctoral studies at the London School of Economics.
The government had made a provision of Rs 40 crore for buying the house. It was finally purchased at a cost of Rs 31 crore. The initial 10 per cent token had been paid in April but the deal had got stuck in the interim after deliberations failed between the owner and the state government.