D Ravikumar

Politics behind shifting of Ambedkar, Gandhi statues in Parliament?

Ambedkar Gandhi statues
The shifting of the statues of Dr BR Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi in the Parliament complex has triggered a storm of protests.

Whenever a statue is vandalised, people complain to the government; whom do they turn to when the government itself 'vandalises' them?

Statues are not just material depictions of leaders they are symbols of their ideals. Those inspired by these ideals revere them, while those offended by them attack them. This has been the case with Dr Ambedkar.

One can see Dr Ambedkar's statues in every corner of the country. They are not only fountains of affection for millions of the downtrodden but also targets for hate mongers. The vandalisation of Dr Ambedkar's statues often occurs in BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

Whenever an Ambedkar statue is vandalised, people complain to the government. But whom do they turn when the government itself vandalises them?

Change of location

Statues of Gandhiji, Ambedkar, and other national leaders have long been installed within the Parliament complex. Recently, the BJP government removed these statues, planning to display them in a secluded location called ‘Prerna Sthal.’

The statue of Dr BR Ambedkar was inaugurated inside the Parliament complex on April 2, 1967, by then-President Dr S Radhakrishnan. This 3.66-metre-tall bronze statue, designed by renowned sculptor VV Bagh, was donated by the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Memorial Committee.

A 4.9-metre-tall bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi, sculpted by renowned artist Ram V Sutar, was inaugurated in 1993.

Symbolic significance

These statues are not just representations of these leaders but symbols of their principles. Political parties frequently gather in front of these statues to protest and advocate for democracy within Parliament.

On the birthdays and memorial days of Dr BR Ambedkar, thousands pay their respects to his statue inside the Parliament complex.

During the recent general elections, the caretaker government led by Narendra Modi hastily removed these statues without public knowledge, citing beautification efforts for the Parliament complex. This fact emerged only when new members went for registration.

Erasing history

A separate gate has been established for the President and Prime Minister to enter the newly constructed Parliament building, which would have required altering the route around these statues.

The real reason for their removal appears to be the inconvenience posed by their principles to the BJP's political agenda. The BJP aims to erase the historical significance of these statues.

The Parliament Secretariat offered an explanation following protests against the removal. They stated that the statues' scattered locations made them difficult for visitors to see, hence the plan to consolidate them in one place for better visibility. The decision was reportedly made by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

Arbitrary removal

While the administration of the Parliament complex falls under the Speaker's control, the arbitrary removal of these statues is unacceptable. The clandestine and hasty manner of their removal during the election period reveals questionable intentions.

It is debatable whether the previous Speaker, Om Birla, had the authority to make such a decision before a new Speaker was elected. This incident reflects ongoing undemocratic actions by the BJP, despite their loss of majority in the elections.

Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar should clarify their stance on this act of disrespect towards national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Before the installation of the new government, the authoritarian forces are busy uninstalling the statues of national leaders. This is not a good sign for democracy.

(The Federal seeks to present views and opinions from all sides of the spectrum. The information, ideas or opinions in the article are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Federal.)

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