Friday, February 3, 2012

[ZESTCaste] No memorial to woo Dalits

No memorial to woo Dalits
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, February 03, 2012

A month after the ruling Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party
(NCP) appeased the Dalit votebank by promising that a memorial for Dr
Babasaheb Ambedkar would be constructed in the entire 12.5-acre Indu
Mills land at Shivaji Park, no move has been made by the government to
transfer of the land.

The joint committee of secretaries of the Centre and the state, formed
to work out modalities of the transfer, has not even met once to
discuss the issue. The committee's report was originally due on
January 26.

The committee includes secretary of textiles, NTC representative,
ministry of forests and environment representative, chief secretary
Ratnakar Gaikwad, civic chief Subodh Kumar and urban development
secretary TC Benjamin.

On January 1, a delegation led by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan met
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and got in-principle approval for the
memorial. This was seen as a political checkmate to the move by
Republican Party of India (Athawale faction) to tie up with the Shiv
Sena for the civic and zilla parishad polls, which had the Congress
worried about losing its traditional vote bank.

Sources in the government said the transfer was impossible before the
civic polls. "The joint committee will decide how to compensate
National Textiles Corporation (NTC) for loss of land and other
modalities. But no meeting has been convened. It is a complicated
subject and will take time,'' said a senior official.

Politically, the Congress, by securing the of transfer Indu Mills land
and backing protests by the little-known Anandraj Ambedkar, grandson
of Dr Ambedkar, had snubbed Ramdas Athawale. "We have been given a
word by the PM on the issue and it will be a shame if it does not
happen soon,'' said Anandraj.

The Congress has also announced a tie-up with Bharipa Bahujan
Mahasangh, led by Anandraj's elder brother Prakash Ambedkar.


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