NEW DELHI: Ram Bahadur Rai, newly appointed chairman of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, has stirred a controversy by allegedly questioning Dalit icon B R Ambedkar’s contribution to the Constitution and terming it “a myth”.
A former ABVP leader and journalist, Rai was quoted by a news weekly as saying that Ambedkar’s role in the drafting of the Constitution was limited in that he just corrected the language of whatever material B N Rau, a civil servant, had given to him. “So, Ambedkar didn’t write the Constitution,” Rai said. Asked if Ambedkar’s role was then “a myth”, Rai replied, “Yes, myth hai, myth hai, myth hai. It is part of identity politics.” Rai was immediately panned by BJP leaders. A comment by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat questioning the caste-based reservation policy had earlier affected BJP’s prospects in the Bihar elections.
The sharpest comment came from the BJP’s Scheduled Caste cell chief, Dushyant Kumar Gautam, who said he would raise the matter within the party. He said that Rai’s comments had “insulted” Ambedkar and that they wouldn’t have been made had the architect of the Constitution belonged to an upper caste. Following Rai’s appointment in April, the cultural body long associated with the Congress started hosting RSS functions.
While Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma declined to comment, Rai denied giving any such interview, claiming that it was a “breach of journalistic ethics”.
‘Deoras praised him’
Asked about Ram Bahadur Rai’s Sangh background, BJP vice-president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said the RSS’ views on Ambedkar were articulated best by its former head Balasaheb Deoras, who had heaped praise on him.