Mhow: President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday cautioned people against divisive forces, saying the nation needed harmony and not conflict.
Speaking in Mhow at the birthplace of chief constitution-maker BR Ambedkar on the occasion of his birth anniversary, Kovind urged people to follow the path of peace, harmony and brotherhood shown by the Dalit icon.
His statements assume significance as they come in the backdrop of the 2 April nationwide Dalit bandh, which saw large -scale violence in several states, including Madhya Pradesh where more than half a dozen people lost their lives.
"The society needs 'samrasta' (harmony) today and not 'samar' (conflict or war). It needs non-violence and peace," Kovind said.
"I appeal to the countrymen, especially the youth, to follow the path of peace, harmony and brotherhood shown by Ambedkar, and unitedly work to built the country according to Ambedkar's dreams," he said.
Earlier, he paid tributes to Ambedkar at his memorial here. In doing so, Kovind became the first president to pay homage to the legendary social reformer at his birthplace on his birth anniversary.
"The country saw 13 presidents before me. I came to know I am the first president to visit Ambedkar's birthplace on the occasion of his birth anniversary," Kovind said.
The president was addressing a function organised to celebrate the 127th birth anniversary of independent India's first law minister.
"As president, I have got the responsibility to protect the Constitution, whose main architect was Babasaheb Ambedkar. If, after becoming president, I did not bow my head at his birthplace, then I would have felt a sense of guilt," he said.
Referring to Ambedkar's thoughts, he said all citizens should put the nation's interest first and ignore divisive forces.
They should treat themselves only as Indians, he said.
Kovind said, "In his last speech at the Constituent Assembly, Ambedkar had said now we have constitutional ways to protest and therefore, we should stay away from lawlessness."
"Our country works on the basis of democratic processes. Today, we need to follow it in an active manner and while doing so we should always remain alert about the good and the bad."
Recalling Ambedkar's contributions to the country, Kovind said he had always adopted non-violent means to fight for the rights of SCs/STs, other weaker sections of the society and women.
The noted jurist-politician always used dialogue for arriving at a consensus, the president said.
"The chant of Jai Bhim means glory to Ambedkar's legacy, ideals and the Constitution that he had given to the country," the president maintained.
Because of the Constitution, every section of the society has got the right to live with dignity, he said.
Kovind said Ambedkar had played a major role in laying the foundation of modern India by establishing the Reserve Bank of India and a few large irrigation and power projects.
The function was chaired by Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawarchand Gehlot also spoke on the occasion.
Kovind visited the Kalipaltan area where the state government has constructed a grand memorial to the Dalit icon, and paid tributes to him.
The president also had lunch with members of the Dalit community.
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Updated Date: Apr 14, 2018 21:19:23 IST