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London’s Ambedkar house is finally India’s

Memorial in the making:The Maharashtra government acquired the bungalow on King Henry’s Road in North London, where Dr. B.R. Ambedkar stayed as a student during 1920-21.— Photo: PTI

Memorial in the making:The Maharashtra government acquired the bungalow on King Henry’s Road in North London, where Dr. B.R. Ambedkar stayed as a student during 1920-21.— Photo: PTI  

After a delay of around nine months and many moments of embarrassment, the BJP government in Maharashtra has finally acquired the London bungalow where B.R. Ambedkar lived as a student.

The 2,050-sq.ft, three-storey bungalow on King Henry Road, NW3, was bought at Rs. 31 crore.

An additional Rs. 3.5 crore was spent on procedural and legal matters, Dilip Kamble, Minister of State for Social Justice, told The Hindu on Friday. “The keys of the bungalow are in the possession of the Indian High Commissioner in London, M.P Singh. This is a great moment. We have fulfilled the wishes of the people,” Mr. Kamble said.

The Devendra Fadnavis government plans to convert the bungalow into an international museum-cum-memorial. The architect of the Indian Constitution lived in the house while pursuing higher studies at the London School of Economics during 1921-22. The BJP government had hoped to acquire the bungalow and throw open the memorial to the public by April 14, his birth anniversary. But certain hiccups in the acquisition process put it under fire by Opposition parties, especially the Congress.

The renovation dates and logistics would be finalised after further discussions, Mr. Kamble said. The State had beaten other prospective buyers to secure the deal.

Former MP Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr. Ambedkar, welcomed the move, but also expressed the hope that the government would consider converting the building into a “utility monument” for Indian students studying in the U.K. “Many Indian students find it difficult to find accommodation or hostels. The building can be used to house them, at least in the initial periods,” he said.

Tedious process

The previous Congress government had initiated the matter with the British Deputy High Commission in Mumbai, but nothing could materialise during its rule. In January, after the BJP came to power, the party indicated its interest in the property and sought the Centre’s assistance. .

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