Friday, March 16, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Govt dithers even on statue of equality plan

Govt dithers even on statue of equality plan
Published: Friday, Mar 16, 2012, 8:00 IST
By Dhaval Kulkarni | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Even as the state government seemed to have backtracked on erecting a
giant statue of warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the
Arabian Sea, another ambitious project is gathering dust.

There was a plan to set up a 'statue of equality' of Dr Babasaheb
Ambedkar in the sea. It had been floated during Ambedkar's birth
centenary celebrations which began in 1990.

This soft peddling has led critics to say that such announcements are
an attempt to use national icons for vote bank politics. Hari Narke,
head and professor, Mahatma Phule Chair at the University of Pune,
said a committee under the then chief minister Sharad Pawar as the
president and former minister Dadasaheb Rupwate as working president
had been set up for the celebrations.

Narke, also an activist,said the committee had sought models for the
statue, but the plan was put on the backburner in wake of the
political upheavals and the 1992-93 riots. "Since then, the idea has
been in cold storage," he added.

A social activist alleged that such announcements were an attempt to
use national icons for narrow political ends and added that the
non-completion of these projects indicated a "lack of political will".

He said that the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj statue idea was born
after the attack on the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune
by the Sambhaji Brigade in 2004 to protest the writings of American
author James Laine which denigrated the warrior king and his mother
Rajmata Jijabai.

Ambedkar's grandson and Republican Sena chief Anandraj Ambedkar said
if there were stumbling blocks in erecting the statue in the sea, a
compromise can be made by setting up an international memorial for him
at the Indu Mills land at Dadar.


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