The annual bookfair at Shivaji Park on Friday had a blue-white sartorial theme: those who manned the stalls drew attention to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s way of life by wearing blue ribbons over white shirts.
The bookstalls were put up by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation as well as independent organisations like the Republican Panthers, Independent Labour Union, Bodhiratna Book Stall and Bombay University students.
Divyang Poddar, alongwith other members of the Republican Panther Jaatiya Antachi Chalwal (the movement for annhililation of caste), sold books on the life of tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda. “We also have a Marathi magazine called Vidrohi that comes out twice a month. The latest one focuses on the unreasonable arrest of our editor and Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale. Mr. Dhawale was among the five activists arrested in 2018 for having alleged Maoist links although the police had no solid proof. Through our published content, we want to make people aware about the truth,” Mr. Poddar said.
A bookstall committed to trade unions and legal reform set up by the Independent Labour Union made its presence felt for the 18th year in a row.
Sagar Tayade, member of the Independent Labour Union, said, “Everyone takes pride in being an Ambedkarite. They think of it as a hobby, but then join other trade unions All India Trade Union Congress, Centre of India Trade Union instead of Babasaheb’s brainchild Independent Labour Union.”
He added, “I do not want to seem like someone who bears hard feelings for people of my own community, but this is my concern. On the brighter side, I like how the youth take interest in revolution and politics, which is what Babasaheb would have been really proud of if he were alive.”
Asmita Jadav and Amit Jadav of Bodhiratna Book Stall said, “We have seen people buying autobiographical accounts of Babasaheb’s life from our stall today. This means people are still curious to know about him. It is a privilege to offer information about our messiah.”