Maharashtra to buy Ambedkar’s London house

Updated - November 16, 2021 05:08 pm IST

Published - January 24, 2015 06:59 pm IST - Mumbai

The Maharashtra government has decided to purchase the 2,050 sq feet, three-story bungalow in London where Dr. B.R. Ambedkar lived.

The house situated on 10, King Henry Road, NW3 where the architect of Indian Constitution lived while he was pursuing higher studies at the London School of Economics during 1921-22 would be converted into a museum-cum-memorial.

The bungalow's price is estimated at Rs. 40 crore.

The decision was announced on Saturday after Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod tawde, who is in London, visited the house, and later spoke to Chief Minister, who is in presently in Davos attending the World Economic Forum summit.

After Mr. Fadnavis' approval, Mr. Tawde met representatives of the Federation of Ambedkarites & Buddhist Organisations (FABO) and other Indian officials to finalise the deal for the historic home.

The "legal and international informalites" are expected to be taken care of within the next couple of months, Mr. Tawde said. He hoped to convert the bungalow into an Ambedkar memorial by April 14, the birth anniversary of Ambedkar. The bungalow will be open to public from the same day.

"A proud moment for me," Mr. Tawde said.

Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar, welcomed the move.

"It's a great thing by the BJP government. The Congress has a lot to explain now as to why it couldn't do it during its tenure," he said. Speaking to The Hindu Mr. Ambedkar, who is the leader of the Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh, suggested that the government utilize the house as a hotel for students from Maharashtra who travel for academics to London.

The BJP-Sena government's decision comes on the heels of the Maharashtra faction of the BJP's request to the Centre to intervene in the sale of the bungalow.

The present landlord of the house a few months ago had put out an advertisement for its sale/auction after the Indian government's repeated failed attempts to purchase it.

In a letter to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, senior BJP MLA and its Mumbai president, Ashish Shelar has requested his “intervention” and “assistance” in taking up the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for the acquisition and preservation of the building.

Mr. Shelar had said that the purchase of the bungalow would be a “fitting tribute to the Architect of the Indian Constitution.” The house's official agents Goldschmidt and Howland have put it up for sale.

Originally a six bedroom terraced house, it has now been converted into a one-bedroom garden flat and a five-bedroom maisonette. A blue plaque at the house’s entrance commemorates Dr. Ambedkar’s stay there. The previous NCP-Congress government led by Prithviraj Chavan towards its end had requested the Centre for its nod to the purchase of the house and also initiated the matter with the British deputy high commission in Mumbai. However, there was no follow up on that.

The BJP's move is being looked upon as its effort to reach out to the Dalit populace in the State. Only last month, the Centre gave its nod for the construction of a memorial for Dr. Ambedkar at the now defunct Indu Mill in Mumbai. A memorial for Dr. Ambedkar at the 12.5-acre compound in West Dadar had been a longstanding demand of Dalit groups.

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