Ambedkar statue : Controversy over Govt's talk with Dalit bodies
Thiruvananthapuram, April 12 : The LDF Government's declaration to "agree in principle" to erect Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's statue in the new Assembly Complex following discussions held with different Dalit groups by SC-ST Welfare Minister had created yet another controversy over the prolonging issue.
Terming the discussion as "sham" and "partial", Vandithadam Valsarajan, Chairman of Dalit Cultural Force (DCF), said that none of the representative bodies who were agitating over the issue since long was invited by the Minister for the talks. "Apart from DCF, leaders of other Dalit organisations like Pulayar Mahasabha, Ambedkar Statue Action Council, Dalit Congress, JSS, Sambasivar Mahasabha, Cheramar Sangham, etc., who staged prolonged agitations like Satyagraha, Secretariate march, Assembly march, and also brought favourable Court verdict over the issue were deliberately excluded from the talks. On the other hand, the discussion was held only with those who have not yet come forward for the issue. This is nothing but treachery", he said.
It is to be recalled that the Kerala High Court had given a directive on March 21 to Kerala Government not to erect the statue anywhere other than the Assembly complex, as well as to take a final decision on the pending representation over the issue within three months, upon a writ petition filed by the DCF Chairman. Although the immediate compulsion of the Government to make such an "in principle" agreement was the High Court order, it did not bother to invite even the DCF Chairman for the discussion.
On the other hand, all those who participated in the discussion, were quoted by the government as agreed upon to withdraw the agitation, though none of them were seen or known to be in the arena of agitation.
"Leaders including the Assembly Speaker tried to save their face saying that the issue never cropped-up before them only after, as candidates for next month's Assembly polls, they started facing stiff protests from Dalit areas within their constituencies. Unless and until the Government is prepared to hold fruitful discussions with leaders of all Dalit bodies standing on the forefront of agitation, and agree to erect the statue early, the ongoing agitation will further be intensified", Vandithadam Valsarajan warned.