The State Cabinet, a few months ago, announced that the statue would temporarily be shifted for construction workof Namma Metro underground station, but there has been no follow-up action
The tug-of-war between Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) and Dalit organisations over the temporary shifting of the Ambedkar statue in front of the Vidhana Soudha for construction of Namma Metro underground station remains unresolved.
Even though BMRCL moved the other statues located in front of Vidhana Soudha one-and-a-half years ago, the Ambdekar statue remains there owing to opposition from various Dalit organisations. Work on construction of the Vidhana Soudha underground station commenced in October 2010. The State Cabinet, a few months ago, announced that the statue would temporarily be shifted to allow construction work, but there has been no follow-up action. On the other hand, the statue is posing hurdles for BMRCL as it is located on the passenger entry/ exit ramp of the station. Further progress would be difficult if the statue remains there, BMRCL has told the government.
On the other hand, Dalit organisations have been claiming that BMRCL is viewing the shifting of the statue as a “prestige issue” after they foiled its attempts to take over land belonging to the Social Welfare Department on M.G. Road that houses a hostel for SC/ ST students.
Samata Sainik Dal president M. Venkataswamy told The Hindu that BMRCL had filed attempt to murder cases against a few Dalit activists after BMRCL officials were attacked last year.
Arguing against shifting the statue, Mr. Venkataswamy said that the alignment of Namma Metro via the Ambedkar Veedhi was wrong as it posed a security threat to the Vidhana Soudha and the High Court. More-over, he said, the project ruins the historic value of the two buildings. Asked if their recalcitrance would lead to Dalit organisations being branded “anti-developmental”, Mr. Venkataswamy replied in the negative and said that they were fighting for the right cause.
Worry over damage
BMRCL authorities said that their only worry was about any possible damage to the statue because of the ongoing work.
“We shifted other statues with the promise to bring them back to the original place and have made similar promise as far as the Ambedkar statue is concerned,” a spokesperson said. Not shifting the statue is likely to delay the project by about five months as of now, the official added.
Sources in the government said that the issue would have been sorted out if the political executive had made up its mind and persuaded both the parties — BMRCL and Dalit organisations — to sit across the table for a meeting.