At a time when political parties are fighting it out to grab the legacy of Bhim Rao Ambedkar for political gains, not many worry as to how the colour blue came to be associated with the Dalit icon.
The leader, who carved out the Constitution of free India laying down the framework assuring its citizens of justice, equality, and liberty, and endeavours to promote fraternity among them, has been depicted in blue in all statues installed all over the country.
“Blue was his favourite colour and he mostly used it in his personal life too,” Lalji Nirmal of Ambedkar Mahasabha, which conferred the ‘Dalit Mitra’ award on Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, told PTI in Lucknow.
Retired IPS officer and leading Dalit activist SR Darapuri said that besides being his favourite colour, blue was also the colour of the flag of the party floated by Ambedkar Scheduled Castes Federation of India in 1942. “The flag was blue in colour and had an Ashok Chakra in the centre…later in 1956 when the Republican Party of India was set up after dissolving the earlier party, it was also given the same blue flag,” Darapuri pointed out.
“Blue, in another shade, is also the colour of the sky, which shows vastness and that was the vision of Baba Saheb,” he said. The same has been adopted by the BSP as its colour and has since came to be associated with Dalit emancipation, he stressed. “The statues of Baba Saheb are always seen in a blue coat with the Constitution in one hand and the finger of the other pointing out as a symbol of moving ahead,” Darapuri said.
Recently a freshly installed 5-feet-tall statue of the Dalit icon was installed in a Badaun village in saffron jacket but was promptly re-painted in blue after questions arose over the choice of a colour associated with Hindutva. The saffron-attire statue in Kuwargaav village was a replacement for a smaller Ambedkar statue that was damaged by some anti-social elements and local BSP leaders initiated its repainting.
Recalling an anecdote recounted by Ambedkar’s wife Dr Savitri Ambedkar, who was a close acquaitance, Lalji Nirmal said that on a visit to Lucknow as central minister Ambedkar had refused to stay in the Raj Bhawan saying that he cannot part with his books. “The then Governor Sarojini Naidu had invited Baba Saheb to stay in the Raj Bhawan but since he had come with his books in hordes, Baba Saheb said that he will be staying in his Railway saloon,” Nirmal said, adding that even his wife used to say that books were his first love.
Quoting “Ambedkar ki dincharya” — a book by Baba Saheb’s secretary — Darapuri said he was also fond of good food and used to cook for his friends and guests. “Savitri Ambedkar on a visit to our place in Varanasi told us that he liked dressing up immaculately and his clothes were stitched by the same tailor from whom the then Lt Governor of Bombay presidency used to get them made,” Darapuri said.
Lalji Nirmal also commended efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for having made Ambedkar relevant today.