Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday said that a decision regarding handing over of Indu Mills land to set up a memorial for Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar will be taken on Wednesday. Dalit outfits have set December 6 as the deadline for the state to decide on the issue, failing which they have threatened to barge into the mill premises.
The announcement date is strategically timed to serve a two-fold purpose – to diffuse unrest and to score brownie points to win Dalits over to the Congress fold. Constituting more than 11% of its vote bank in the state, they have always remained the party’s main vote bank.
Thursday will see several supporters of Dr Ambedkar converge to pay respects to their leader at the place where his last rites were performed. This spot is located a stone’s throw away from the Indu mill premises.
Chavan was in Delhi on Monday and Tuesday, trying to stop the Centre from delaying the process of handing over the mill land for the memorial. Sources said Chavan has cautioned the Centre about the growing unrest among Dalit organations and insisted on a decision by December 6.
Union commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said, “An official announcement will be made on December 6.”
The CM on Tuesday roped in senior Congress leaders representing Dalits to negotiate with the RPI to convey the decision taken by the state and Centre and to coax the party not to take law and order into its hands.
He also urged central leaders to expedite the process of transfer. The mill land, which is owned by the Centre, has to be first transferred to the state.
Congress sources said the National Textile Corporation, which owns the land, wants the state to offer adequate financial compensation for the transfer.
“Instead of financial compensation, the state is considering other options... The modalities are still being worked out,” said a source.