Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Monday held a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Union minister for industries and commerce Anand Sharma to seek the 12.5 acres Indu Mills land for the BR Ambedkar memorial in Dadar. However, Sharma’s statement urging the state to not set December 6 as deadline for the handover has irked Dalit leaders.
Not satisfied with the verbal assurances by Sharma and Chavan, RPI leaders met NCP president Sharad Pawar in Delhi. RPI chief Ramdas Athavale led the delegation to Pawar’s residence seeking a final solution to the decade-old issue of the memorial.
Pawar asked them to come to his office at Krishi Bhawan, saying Union finance minister P Chidambaram and Sharma were going to meet him there and they could discuss the matter.
Dalit writer Arjun Dangle said, “The Congress is not very pleased with our decision to approach Pawar over the issue. We want the government to give a categorical assurance that Indu Mills land has been given for the memorial.”
Dalit leaders said Congress and NCP are engaged in petty politics and fighting to take the credit. Athavale said, “ We have already set December 6 as the deadline. It is up to the government to find a solution.”
Chavan, who is concerned about the law and order situation in the city, has urged RPI leaders and other factions representing Dalit groups to show restraint. “The Democratic Front government is committed to the construction of the Ambedkar memorial. But there are some technicalities which have to be cleared by the Centre,” he said.
However, Chavan’s assurance is not going to work with RPI. Angry RPI activists said, “Congress leaders told us that they have to pay a huge amount for the 12.5 acres as it belongs to the National Textile Corporation, which comes under the Centre. Or, in lieu, the state will have to provide additional space for commercial use.”