No disrespect shown to Ambedkar: PM, Chidambaram (Second Lead)

April 14th, 2009 - 9:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday brushed aside suggestions the Congress party had not adequately recognised the role played by Dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar, with Home Minister P. Chidambaram speaking in similar vein.
“Dr. Ambedkar was a pathfinder and the architect of our (Indian) constitution. How can anyone say the Congress has not recognised his contributions,” Manmohan Singh told reporters on the sidelines of a civil investiture ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

The prime minister, however, sidestepped a question on why he and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani remained silent even as they shared the dais here at a function to mark Ambedkar’s birth anniversary.

“I don’t want to get into personalised politics,” he maintained.

Manmohan Singh and Advani have been engaged in a furious war of words during the last few days in the run up to the general elections, the first phase of which will be conducterd April 16

Chidambaram, as is his wont, was sharper in responding to Advani’s charge that “the Congress did not do justice to Ambedkar”.

“It is a fact that the BJP recognised Ambedkar only after several decades. The Congress has always acknowledged Ambedkar’s greatness and his contribution,” he told reporters, also at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Advani, while speaking at a public rally here to mark Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, said: “The Congress did not do justice to Ambedkar. He could have been sent to the Lok Sabha but was defeated under a plan.”

“He was conferred the Bharat Ratna in 1990, and the Congress was not in power at the centre then. It was the government of V.P. Singh, which was formed with our support that conferred the honour. This shows what the attitude the Congress has towards the greatest Dalit leader. It has to be kept in mind,” Advani added.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi described Advani’s contention as a “futile argument”.

Union minister Kapil Sibal accused Advani of distorting history.

“The problem with Advani is that he doesn’t have a sense of history. He distorts history,” Sibal said when asked for his reaction to Advani’s accusation.

Priyanaka Gandhi, daughter of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, said in Amethi: “It is a completely futile accusation.”

Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian constitution, was born April 14, 1891. He died Dec 6, 1956.

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