Karnataka: ‘Ambedkar’ to be moved

Print edition : March 22, 2013

Preparations being made to shift the Ambedkar statue in the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore so that it is not damaged during the Metro tunnelling work. Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar

FINALLY, after more than three years of wrangling, a statue of B.R. Ambedkar will be temporarily shifted from the premises of the Vidhana Soudha. Of the three statues that adorned the majestic lawns of the Legislative Assembly, two, those of Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose, have already been moved. The statues had to be shifted to allow engineering work, including tunnelling, for the Bangalore Metro to proceed smoothly. While the move was approved in June 2009 by the State Cabinet, protests from Dalit groups had stalled the shifting of Ambedkar’s statue.

With both Dalit groups and the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) taking a stubborn stand, the issue was resolved only after the intervention of the Karnataka High Court, which led to the Dalit parties agreeing to the move. In December 2012, the High Court had ordered the statue to be shifted within 15 days. While hearing petitions from Dalit groups after this order, a Division Bench of the High Court had commented on the indignity of Ambedkar’s statue being suspended in mid-air. The idea to leave the statue dangling above its pedestal from a crane was taken after the statue sank by 19 mm during the excavation work. This situation led to the Dalit groups agreeing to the temporary shifting. The opposition to the shifting stemmed from apprehensions that the statue would be damaged while being moved. The Dalit groups had also expressed concern that it might not be reinstalled at the same spot. With many of them threatening a stir, the situation seemed deadlocked. Costs associated with the construction of the metro had escalated steeply and there were also delays because of the recalcitrant attitude of Dalit groups such as the Karnataka Dalit Sangarsha Samiti.

Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed