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 (Edited Image Courtesy: PIB)
 
Have you ever come across any instance of a Prime Minister describing a departed national icon as “very controversial figure” in obituary?
Jawaharlal Nehru did so on 6th December 1956 while sharing his grief over demise of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. And in this hangs a tale of uneasy relationship between these two leaders – a relationship in which Dr. Ambedkar missed no opportunity to unmask and jab at Mr. Nehru. 
This narrative is relevant as Parliamentarians are currently vying with one another in eulogizing Dr. Ambedkar as chief architect of Indian Constitution and as a prime mover of socio-political reforms.
He had premonition of his death. He had also cautioned the Government against taking the country to dogs!
Before recounting certain punches thrown by Dr. Ambedkar at Nehru, hear what Mr. Nehru stated: “Dr. Ambedkar for many, many years had been a very controversial figure in Indian public affairs, but there can be no doubt about his outstanding quality, his scholarship, and the intensity with which he pursued his convictions, sometimes rather with greater intensity than perhaps required by the particular subject, which sometimes reacted in a contrary way. But he was the symbol of that intense feeling which we must always remember, the intense feeling of the suppressed classes in India who have suffered for ages past under our previous social systems, and it is as well that we recognise this burden that all of us should carry and should always remember.
Dr. Ambedkar resigned as Law Minister from Nehru Cabinet in 1951 following differences over former’s cherished Hindu Code Bill, which was not passed and later modified as Hindu Marriages and Divorce Bill, 1952. 
He listened to Mr Nehru’s rambling and laboured rationalization of Government’s decision to tinker with the order of Labour Appellate Tribunal on Bank Disputes in Rajya Sabha on 2nd September 1954. 
Dr. Ambedkar had a dig at Nehru’s statement: “The Prime Minister's case—if I understood him correctly—resembled the case of a woman who had given birth to an illegitimate child and when she was questioned on this issue, she said: ‘Sir, it may be illegitimate, but it is a very small baby.Well, I suppose we could separate the two issues, the fact that the decision is illegitimate and the fact that the decision probably is a small one.” 
Participating in a discussion on report of Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC&ST) in the same month, he targeted Nehru for his indifference towards ostracization.  
Dr. Ambedkar stated: “Our Prime Minister has taken no interest in this matter at all. In fact, he seems to be not only apathetic but anti-untouchable. I happen to have read his biography and I find that he castigated Mr. Gandhi because Mr. Gandhi was prepared to die for the purpose of doing away with separate electorates which was given to the scheduled castes. He said in his biography, ‘Why on earth Mr. Gandhi is bothering with this trifling problem.’ Sir, I was shocked and surprised to hear the Prime Minister – rather Mr. Nehru then in 1934 – uttering these words. I thought that since the responsibility of Government had fallen on his shoulder he may have changed his view and thought that he must now take the responsibility which Mr. Gandhi was prepared to take on his shoulder, but I do not find any kind of a change in his mind.”
He continued: “Sir, in the year 1952 a conference was held at Nagpur under the Presidentship of my hon. Friend, Babu Jagjivan Ram. I understood that there was a very big shamiana. Two silver chairs were placed on the dais, one for Mr. Jagjivan Ram and one for Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. There was an audience of two hundred to three hundred and one thousand police. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was supposed to inaugurate that conference. I have got his speech here, but I do not wish to trouble the House by reading it, but this is the gist of it. He was, I am told, in great anger against Babu Jagjivan Ram for having organised the conference. He said roundly ‘I do not recognize that there is such a problem as that of the untouchables. There is a general problem of the economically poor and the problem of the untouchables is a part of that problem. It will take its place and receive its attention along with the other problems. There is no occasion, no purpose in bestowing any special thought upon it’.”
He added:Sir, if the Prime Minister is prepared to throw such cold water— not cold, water from the refrigerator, so to say—what enthusiasm can we expect from the rest of the workers who have taken upon themselves the duty or the responsibility or the interest in carrying on with this particular problem: I do not think that untouchability will vanish.”
Participating in a discussion on international situation in August 1954, he blamed Nehru for delaying and complicating the issue of Portuguese exiting Goa.
Dr. Ambedkar stated: “There can be no doubt that the Prime Minister in pursuing the policy of getting Goa evacuated is quite right. It is a very sound policy and everybody must lend his support to him. I do. But there is one observation that I would like to make.”
He continued: “This question about the evacuation of Goa by the Portuguese and handing it over to India was, if I remember alright, brought to his notice very early when we got our independence. I possess with me some notes which were submitted to him by a delegation—I have forgotten their names. But I have got them with me—but the Prime Minister took no active interest in it.”
He added: “I am very sorry to say that, because I feel that if the Prime Minister had in the very beginning taken an active interest in the matter. I am sure about it that a small police action on the part of the Government of India would have been quite sufficient to enable us to get possession of Goa. But he has always been only shouting against them, only shouting and doing nothing. The result has been that the Portuguese have been able, so far as we know, to garrison Goa.”
Dr. Ambedkar also questioned Mr. Nehru’s foreign policy that hinged on three principles – peace; co-existence between communism and democracy; and the opposition to now defunct Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). He also debunked Mr. Nehru’s Panchsheel principle, which was trampled by Chinese aggression in 1962. 
He stated: “The Prime Minister has been depending upon what may be called the Panchsheel taken by Mr. Mao and recorded in the Tibet treaty of nonaggression. Well, I am somewhat surprised that the Prime Minister should take this Panchsheel seriously. The Panchsheel, as you, Sir, know it well, is the essential part of the Buddhist religion, and if Mr. Mao had any faith in the Panchsheel, he certainly would treat the Buddhists in his own country in a very different way. There is no room for Panchsheel in politics and secondly, not in the politics of a communist country.”
As for his premonition about his death, Dr. Ambedkar, a diabetic, made a few philosophical repartees while participating in a debate on States Reorganization Bill in May 1956.
When a MP interjected in his speech and quipped: “God save your soul.”
Dr. Ambedkar responded: “Do not pray for my soul. I have no soul. I am a Buddhist. Nobody need take the trouble of praying for my soul. I do not believe in God. I have no soul. I have spared you that trouble.”
In the same debate, another MP hinted that only he had the requisite stature to succeed Home Minister G.B. Pant, if such an eventuality arose. 
To this, he retorted: “I shall die pretty soon. Don't enrol me. This country, by this kind of thing, is going to dogs. Our primary concern is to raise and train politicians so that they can learn to take responsibility upon their own shoulders.” 
As the cliché goes, rest is history. 
                                                          
Published by http://nareshminochapolity.blogspot.in on 29th November 2015
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