After Modi and Sardar Patel, RSS wants to adopt Ambedkar
The RSS's SC unit has launched a campaign to make Ambedkar their Dalit icon.
The brouhaha over Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's legacy and which party is the rightful inheritor of that legacy has barely been laid to rest but the Bharatiya Janata Party's parent outfit, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, appears ready to lay claim to another national icon, Dr BR Ambedkar.
The RSS's Scheduled Caste Morcha has now launched a campaign to adopt Ambedkar as the party's Dalit icon. The campaign was launched by Sanjay Paswan, the RSS SC Morcha's president, who also felicitated BSP founder Kanshi Ram, former Congressman Jagjivanram and former President KR Narayanan.
A report in The Economic Times quoted Paswan as saying that the political party started by Ambedkar was "not functioning" while the BSP has only a limited appeal. "For Dalits to hit mainstream we have to do inclusive politics," the report quotes him as saying.
Among the RSS functionaries at the launch function were Sanjay Joshi and Indiresh Kumar.
Also present was Dr Suraj Yadav, Delhi University professor and grandson of BP Mandal, the author of the Mandal Commission report. Yadav reportedly said the ABVP was the first forum where the senior Mandal had made references to the concept of affirmative action.
The RSS's unhappiness with the Mandal Commission report being implemented is a thing of the past, according to Paswan.
The RSS / BJP is not the only political outfit to be vying for the support of Ambedkar followers across the country.
The Congress in Maharashtra, having had a long tussle with the Dalit parties (the largest of which is now an ally of the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party) over a grand memorial for Ambedkar, has now promised a bhoomi pujan for an "international level" memorial on the Indu Mill Land in Dadar, Shivaji Park.
Speaking on Constitution Day on November 26, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Manikrao Thakre promised that the decision to hand over the land having now been taken by the Ministry of Textiles which controls the National Textile Corporation which runs the India United Mills (also called the Indu Mills), the ground-breaking ceremony for the memorial project would be conducted "very soon".
Two years back, on 6 December, the day of Ambedkar's 'Mahaparinirvan' or spiritual ascension following death, more than 500 supporters of Dr Ambedkar stormed the Indu Mills premises and demanded that the mill land be allotted for the construction of a memorial. The protesters broke police barricades and barged inside the premises while raising slogans in support of the Dalit leader.
The crowd of protestors, controlled by a faction of the Republican parties, left only a few days later after fresh assurances from the Congress-led Maharashtra state government.
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