Governor R.N. Ravi on Tuesday said the British, with their design of divide and rule, tried to make B.R. Ambedkar another Muhammad Ali Jinnah by offering a separate electorate for the depressed classes (Scheduled Castes).
Unveiling a statue of Ambedkar on his death anniversary at the Raj Bhavan, the Governor said the architect of the Constitution, however, saw through this and refused a separate electorate by signing the Poona Pact with Mahatma Gandhi.
The British, fearing the collective consciousness emerging in the country, divided Hindus and Muslims through separate electorates and by patronising Jinnah, he said. “They began looking for more Jinnahs, and then, they spotted B.R. Ambedkar,” he said, adding that the separate electorate for the depressed classes, if implemented, could have wreaked havoc in post-Independent India.
Recalling that Ambedkar had, in his book Pakistan or the Partition of India, highlighted the need for confronting the partition problem rather than wishing it away, Mr. Ravi said that if the advice had been heeded, partition could have been avoided or made less gruesome. Similarly, Ambedkar was opposed to the ambivalent position of then Prime Minister [Jawaharlal Nehru] on the Jammu and Kashmir issue and warned about future problems if the issue was taken to the U.N., he added.
Noting that the country continued to face the problem, he said that fortunately, with the decisive action and the “comprehensive surgery” by the current [Union] government [dilution of Article 370 and bifurcation of the State], it should be solved.
Calling Ambedkar an intellectual giant, Mr. Ravi said many contemporary leaders felt uncomfortable in his presence as they “felt smaller in the brightness that he exuded”. Ambedkar fought not only for the SCs but all downtrodden people, and played a role in implementing the Hindu code bills that secured women’s rights. He was an ardent nationalist who, even while deciding to renounce Hinduism, chose an Indic faith - Buddhism, Mr. Ravi said.
Citing Ambedkar’s electoral defeat in 1952 to his former assistant [propped up by the Congress], Mr. Ravi said he was unfairly treated and deserved greater respect and a more honourable position after the adoption of the Constitution.
Pointing out that he initiated efforts for installing Ambedkar’s statue soon after taking charge as Governor, Mr. Ravi said the Raj Bhavan now felt more complete with his statue.
Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting L. Murugan said the Centre had taken various initiatives to remember and honour Ambedkar. Though Ambedkar was a leader with one of the highest number of statues, it was unfortunate that many of them had to be protected by iron grills, he said.
The criticisms heaped on music composer Ilaiyaraaja for writing the foreword to a book on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ambedkar were unfair, he added.
Minister for Adi Dravidar Welfare N. Kayalvizhi Selvaraj, Chief Secretary V. Irai Anbu and Principal Secretary to the Governor Anandrao V. Patil were present.
The statue was funded by Maamannar Ondiveeran Desiya Peravai and sculpted by Kishore Nagappa.