NDA’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani on Sunday accused the Congress of adopting tactics which “ensured” defeat of Dalit icon and architect of the Constitution, Bhimrao Ambedkar in post-Independence polls.
“After Independence, when the first government of the country was taking shape, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru gave priority to give berth only to Congressmen in it. But Gandhiji advised him to include scholar leaders like Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Dr. Ambedkar in the government,” Mr. Advani said addressing the BJP’s Scheduled Caste Mahasammelan here.
“Though Dr. Ambedkar was later made chairman of the committee formed for framing the Indian Constitution in which he had ensured that all sections of society are protected, Congress at the time of elections adopted such tactics which ensured his defeat in the polls,” Mr. Advani claimed. “Unhe Congress ne parajit karvaya (He (Ambedkar) was defeated by the Congress),” Mr. Advani charged. Mr. Advani also termed the “incidents of disrespect shown by the Congress towards Dr. Ambedkar the party’s political vendetta against the Dalit messiah.”
Let us read some history and see whether how much truth is there in what our Prime ministerial candidate was saying.
What is the truth? Let us see what Rajni Kothari a prominent scholar says in his book ‘Caste in Indian Politics’
“The era of cooperation [between Congress and Ambedkar] ended in fall of 1951 just before India’s first General election.Ambedkar resigned from the cabinet primarily because of lack of support for Hindu code Bill for which he as a law minister was responsible……. “
Hindu Code Bill of 1951
Hindu Code Bill prepared by Dr Ambedkar and fully supported by Nehru was enivisaged to give equal status to Women in Civil Laws.The bill raised the age of marriage,upheld monogamy,gave women the rights to divorce,maintenance and inheritance and treated dowry as women’s property.
There was strong opposition from the conservative sections of the society including the Hindu Maha Sabha,Jan Sangh and the RSS. They were of the opinion that the Bill will destroy the age old Hindu tradition and Hindu way of life.Conservative Congress leaders like the then President Dr Rajendra Prasad also opposed it. He opposed some of the provisions in the bill and wanted to postpone the consideration of the Bill till the next Parliament.It is interesting to read the correspondence between the President Prasad and Prime Minister Nehru here.
Fearing that the Bill may not be passed in Parliament and even if passed the President may send it back,Nehru decided to postpone it. Ambedkar was angry and resigned from the Ministry.
Another reason for his resignation was he wanted to activate the cadres of Schedule Caste Federation before the General Election.
Elections in 1952
Thus Ambedkar participated in the 1952 elections not as a friend of the administration[Congress] but as a bitter opponent.
Ambedkar contested under the banner of Scheduled Caste Federation.As per Rajini Kothari in the above book, “Congress had kept a seat vacant for Ambedkar until the last moment,till it came to be known that his Party entered in to an alliance with Socialist Party. Ambedkar was defeated by another Dalit from Congress Mr N.S. Kajrolkar from the Bombay North Constituency.”
Though Ambedkar was defeated, Congress graciously offered him a Rajya Sabha seat which he accepted.He remained an Independent M.P till his death in 1956.
Nehru made the Hindu Code Bill a big election issue, won a massive majority in Parliament and passed the Bill as four separate acts in 1956.
Now let us once again go back to Mr Advani’s statement.
Did Congress defeat Ambedkar in elections?
Yes true but only a half truth. It was Ambedkar who resigned from the Cabinet,refused Congress ticket,mobilised Dalits under the banner of Schedule Caste Federation, contested against Congress and was defeated. Even then Congress gave him a Rajya Sabha seat.Advani will never mention all the other truths as they are inconvenient for getting Dalit votes.
Was Jan Sangh supporting Ambedkar? The irony of the fact is that Jan Sangh’s opposition to Hindu Code Bill was one of the reason for postponing the tabling of Bill,which in turn resulted in Ambedkar’s resignation. Now Advani the leader of BJP,the new avatar of Jan Sangh is shedding crocodile tears in the name of Ambedkar. What a hypocrisy!!!
Sangh Parivar and Ambedkar
The true attitude of Sangh Parivar towards Ambedkar is well depicted in the former BJP Minister Arun Shourie’s book ‘Worshipping False Gods’. At the same time they do not want to loose Dalit votes by openly campaigning against Ambedkar.
BJP was always a master of such deceptions.
But it is difficult to hide history behind the saffron mask.