Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought attention to a letter penned by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in the Rajya Sabha, in which Nehru expressed opposition to reservation policies. The revelation prompted comparisons with Dr BR Ambedkar’s earlier critique of Nehru’s perceived lack of attention to the concerns of Dalits.
The Prime Minister’s disclosure came during a session in which he read out excerpts from Nehru’s letter that opposed the idea of reservation. Dr Ambedkar, the principal architect of India’s Constitution and a prominent Dalit leader, had previously voiced concerns over what he saw as Nehru’s neglect of the Dalit community.
Quoting from Dr. Ambedkar’s writings and speeches, Modi highlighted a portion of Ambedkar’s resignation letter, in which he stated, “India’s Dalits have the worst condition in the whole world. Still, why has no relief been given to Dalits? This government (Nehru’s) is always more concerned about the safety of Muslims than that of Dalits. Prime Minister Nehru’s entire time and attention are devoted to the security of Muslims. I also want to provide security to the Muslims of India, but do only Muslims need security in this country? Don’t Dalits, tribals, and Christians need security?”
The excerpt, found in Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s writings and speeches, Volume 14, Part 2, sheds light on Ambedkar’s dissatisfaction with the Nehru-led government’s approach to Dalit welfare.
Continuing, Dr. Ambedkar, in a speech delivered in Jalandhar on October 27, 1951, expressed his disappointment with Nehru’s apparent silence on the atrocities faced by Dalits. Ambedkar remarked, “Pandit Nehru has been one of the biggest leaders of the country for the last 20 years, during which he must have addressed at least two thousand meetings. But as far as I remember, he never mentioned the atrocities on Dalits.”
During the same speech, Dr Ambedkar emphasised the need for attention to Dalit concerns, stating, “I agree that Muslims should not be neglected, but I do not want that Muslims should have fun at the expense of Dalits because Dalits need protection more than them.” Ambedkar recounted an encounter with Nehru where he raised Dalit demands, only to be told that everything had already been done for the community.
Furthermore, Dr Ambedkar recounted an incident where he requested Nehru to take action to evacuate poor Dalits stranded in Pakistan during the partition. According to Ambedkar, Nehru failed to respond, prompting Ambedkar to dispatch two members of his Mahar battalion to Pakistan for the evacuation. Ambedkar questioned Nehru’s commitment to Dalit welfare, stating, “If I myself, being a Congress leader (Nehru), had so much sympathy for the Dalits, imagine what this Congress will do for us?”
The revelations made by PM Modi, drawing on Dr. Ambedkar’s historical perspectives, have sparked discussions on Nehru’s stance on reservation policies and his perceived neglect of Dalit concerns. This revelation adds a nuanced dimension to the ongoing political discourse, bringing to light historical critiques from one of the key architects of the Indian Constitution, Dr BR Ambedkar. As debates continue, the revelations are likely to shape discussions on social justice and political narratives in the country.