Monday, August 14, 2017

Ambedkar and Mandal

Ambedkar and two Mandals
"On November 26, 1949 the Constituent Assembly approved and adopted the final draft of the Constitution. This final draft was the culmination of almost three years of extensive, high quality debate and discussion among the 299 members of the Assembly. The chairman of the Drafting Committee (which had produced the original draft for discussion) made a memorable speech to the Assembly on that final, historic day. That person was Dr B R Ambedkar, who of course, was himself a member of the constituent Assembly.
But, did you know that he almost did not make it to that august Assembly? That's because most major political parties, chiefly the Congress party and most of its senior leaders, did not want him to be elected. Unfortunately, Ambedkar was a hated man. In his own words, uttered on May 21, 1932, he said, "I am the most hated man in Hindu India. I am denounced as a traitor...branded as the greatest enemy of the country." This was because of his insistence that the depressed classes (the word Dalit came into usage much later) be given a separate electorate, just like Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. Mahatma Gandhi was firmly against this. All the animosity against Ambedkar, especially from the senior political class, came to the fore during the elections to various provincial legislatures (what we would later call the Vidhan Sabhas) in July 1946. These legislatures in turn would elect members of the Constituent Assembly, which would then write India's Constitution. Ambedkar was actively sought to be excluded or defeated in the provincial elections by senior leaders from the Congress Party. So he was not able to make it to the Constituent Assembly from his native Maharashtra.
It was thanks to Jogendra Nath Mandal that Ambedkar finally made it to the Assembly from the province of Bengal in 1946. Mandal was the head of the Scheduled Caste Federation of Bengal and Ambedkar was its national head. He persuaded Ambedkar to become a candidate for the Constituent Assembly from Bengal because Ambedkar did not have the requisite support from his home province. To ensure Ambedkar's victory and eventual entry into the Constituent Assembly, the Dalits of Bengal took support from the Muslim League and Anglo Indians. "

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