Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday hailed BR Ambedkar at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the BR Ambedkar National Memorial in New Delhi and said that Ambedkar was to Indians what Martin Luther King Jr was to the world.
"Sometimes, we insult Babsaheb Ambedkar by limiting him to his work for Dalits. But he worked for all oppressed people," PM Modi said. "We see Ambedkar the same way the world sees Martin Luther King," he added. He also called Ambedkar a "Vishwa Manav".
Promising the people that the Ambedkar Memorial will be established by 14 April, 2018, Modi further said, "26, Alipur Road will be an iconic building of Delhi and for us, it will be a source of inspiration."
Modi also said that Ambedkar worked for social unity and equality of the country the same way Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel worked for political unity of India.
"Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, through his political wisdom, created a united Bharat Mata... Ambedkar, through constitutional means, worked for social equality and unity in the country," he said.
The PM also said that Ambedkar had left the Congress government of his times because the then government was taken aback by his progressive ideas for women empowerment.
"History is sometimes diluted or suppressed in our nation," PM Modi said, explaining why many people would not know about Ambedkar leaving the then government.
"The government of those times was taken aback by Ambedkar's ideas for women empowerment. It was because the government rejected Ambedkar's ideas for women empowerment that he left the government of that time," Modi further said.
"Thus, if I limit Ambedkar's contribution to Dalits, what will happen to 50 percent of the population in India?" Modi said, referring to the women in India.
"Babasaheb Ambedkar was the masiha (messiah) of all the labourers in the country," the PM further said. "If there is a central foundation for labour laws in India, that foundation is because of Ambedkar," he added.
Modi then said that Ambedkar's absence from the then government was felt even today as he had made great plans for working on the country's maritime strength and power generation.
"Ambedkar understood the maritime strength of India and wanted to take it forward," he said. "There is a bill on waterways in Parliament. But let me tell you that this is the vision of Babasaheb Ambedkar," he added. "Ambedkar had one message for the society: to get educated. It is like an inner power and he showed the way in that regard," Modi said, adding that Ambedkar's other messages also included working for unity and human rights.
"It is our duty to follow the path of Babasaheb Ambedkar," Modi said.
The Prime Minister also took a dig at the Congress and other Opposition leaders who had suggested that the BJP government was trying to get rid of reservation.
The Prime Minister tried to bring an end to the debate on reservations for the underprivileged, saying lies are spread over the issue whenever the BJP comes to power.
"Those who did not do anything for 60 years often spread lies. I remember it well when Vajpayeeji became Prime Minister; they started saying reservation would go. He was Prime Minister for two terms. Nothing of that sort happened, but lies were still spread," Modi said at the foundation laying ceremony of B.R. Ambedkar National Memorial here.
In Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, where the BJP has been in power for many years, "nothing has ever happened to the reservations for Dalits and tribals," but lies were still spread to mislead the people, he said.
These misinformation campaigns were carried out by people who only want to do politics on the issue of reservations, the Prime Minister said.
"Some people do not even want to see us. They get a fever when they see us. That's why they spread lies," he said. "When the Vajpayee government was formed, people were scared that reservation was going to be abolished. But nothing of that sort happened...This is a right that nobody can snatch," he said.
"BJP has ruled in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Haryana for many years and the quota policy never suffered a scratch," he said.
"Lies are being spread even today because some people are only engaging in politics," Modi said. "We can never strengthen the nation by making the society weak," he added.
"Ambedkar's actions were never driven by politics, but by love for the society and the nation," he said. "If Baba Saheb had served in the government for longer time, he could've done 60 years before what I did today," he added.
Modi also said that Ambedkar never had any bitterness towards some sections of the society for the injustice he had to face. "It is natural to seek revenge for any wrongdoing. But Ambedkar never had any bitterness in his words for the injustice against him," he said.
The Prime Minister also said that despite Ambedkar's grand plans for power generation in India, there were many villages which still did not have electricity. "Sixty years after Ambedkar created a structure for power generation in India, we still have villages which have no electricity," Modi said. He promised that his government would work to provide electricity to villages.
(With inputs from agencies)