The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday kicked off a ‘Bhim Rath’ campaign in Mumbai to mobilise public support for the inauguration ceremony of the memorial dedicated to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar here. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for the memorial on October 11, on the premises of the now defunct Indu Mill in Shivaji Park in central Mumbai.
The BJP plans to invite lakhs of people to the programme and will run a door-to-door campaign, said BJP MLA and party’s Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar, who kicked off the Bhim Yatra from the State party headquarters here. Terming October 11 a historic day, Mr. Shelar said the memorial would be “another feather in Mumbai’s cap.”
The land earmarked for the memorial sits next to Chaityabhoomi, where the last rites of Dr. Ambedkar were performed. As part of the BJP-RSS combine’s increasing efforts to lay claim to the legacy of Dr. Ambedkar, the Devendra Fadnavis government has taken a few measures to appease Dalits. The State government recently purchased the London Bungalow where Dr. Ambedkar lived as a student in the 1920s.
The BJP government now hopes to capitalise on the previous Congress governments’ failure to get the memorial constructed, a longstanding demand of various Dalit groups.
Within a month of the BJP claiming power in Maharashtra last year, the Centre gave its approval for the construction of the memorial.
“The dream of a fitting memorial for Dr. Ambedkar will get a definite shape at the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis,” Mr. Shelar said.