Life and Mission of Dr Ambedkar

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Back to Opposition     

1. Hindu Code Bill - The day for the battle on the Hindu Code Bill dawned & all opponents rallied. The Congress too was divided over the issue. He declared that his Govt would resign if the Bill was not passed by Parliament. Sardar Patel / Dr Rajendra Prasad opposed the bill. Savarkar said that Congress leaders must take up the bill if it helped the nation. Amid such atmosphere BRA introduced the bill on 5/2/1951. Sardar Hukum Singh, Sikh spokesman regarded the Bill as a dubious attempt on the part of the Hindus to absorb the Sikh community.

Replying to the objections, BRA said that the bill would be uniform throughout India. As regards the Sikh objection he replied, ‘the application of the Hindu code to the Buddhists, Sikhs & Jains was a historical development & it would be too late to object to it. When Buddha differed from the Vedic Brahmans he did so only in matter of creed, but left the Hindu legal framework in tact. The same was the case with Mahavir and the ten Sikh Gurus. The Privy Council had as early as 1830 laid down that the Sikhs were governed by Hindu Law’. Referring to the point of a secular state in the Constitution it did not mean that they could abolish religion. It meant that the Govt could not thrust any religion on the people. The debate continued for 3 days, Bill was postponed to next session.

Outside his library BRA was a beehive of opposition & storms. In April 1951 he made a violent attack on the Central govt accusing it of apathy towards the rights of the SC. It rocked India & upset Congressmen / Nehru. Bitterness between BRA & the Congressmen was increasing & it was said that Nehru was to submit this resignation to the President at the end of the current session of Parliament in order to permit himself to reform & reorganize the Cabinet and had asked BRA to resign if he was not prepared to retract his charge. Sources close to BRA said the only reason why he did not resign was his passionate desire to pilot the Hindu Code Bill through Parliament before the general elections. Meanwhile BRA introduced the Representation of the People Bill to Parliament.

2. Resigns - In May BRA delivered another broadside against Hinduism on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti Celebrations in Delhi. He attributed all the vices of Hindus such as violence, immorality and corruption in Govt offices to deterioration in Hinduism & declared that the real salvation for India would come when people embraced Hinduism. This meeting was attended by almost all Ambassadors in the Capital, alienated caste Hindus; newspapers responded that his remarks were not true. On eminent Hindu leaders this speech had no effect, too much thundering by BRA created no more excitement.

In July August BRA started a new college at Aurangabad. In view of his ill health BRA requested Nehru to consider taking up of the Code bill at the earliest. Due to opposition within it was decided that one part of the Bill, the Marriage & Divorce should be taken up on Sept 17 and other clauses relating to property would be taken up later if time permitted. On D Day Dr Mookerjee said that the Bill would shatter the magnificent structure of Hindu culture & stultify a dynamic / catholic way of life. He suggested that the principle be applied to members of all religions on the basis of human law & taunted that there was an opportunity to implement secularism. While this debate was on Nehru lost patience & suggested a compromise that the Divorce & Marriage part of the Bill should be treated as a separate bill. BRA alienated the members by an uncalled for attack of Rama & Sita resulting in Nehru asking BRA to drop the bill.

BRA’s disappointment was sore. The news of his resignation flashed in the papers, he resigned from the cabinet on Sept 27. When the House reassembled on 11/10/1951 BRA was not allowed to speak first on some technical grounds because of which he walked out of the House in protest. Most members were unhappy at this turn of events. The next day the House welcomed BRA back to its fold as ‘leader of the opposition’.

Why did BRA resign – he gave the press five reasons. One he explained how Nehru left him out of every Cabinet Committee although he had promised BRA the Planning dept when he offered the law ministry. Two was the charge leveled against the govt that it had apathy towards SC uplift. Three he differed with the Govt’s Kashmir policy, he said, ‘The right solution for the Kashmir issue is to partition the state. Give Hindu & Buddhist parts to India & the Muslim part to Pakistan as we did in the case of India. Four was the wrong foreign policy of India, which increased enemies rather than friends. Owing to such a policy India had spent 108 crs out of 350 crs revenue on Army. He said if India had friends whom it could depend upon this money could have been saved. Five was Nehru’s lukewarm policy towards the Hindu code bill. It was clear that BRA was out as a disappointed man not because of his illness.

3. Elections + Defeat - The reaction of the Press & people to BRA’s resignation was favorable. Excerpts from Times of India editorial, ‘BRA leaves the govt with a considerable record of achievement behind him. It would be little short of tragedy if BRA were to relinquish the national stage & relapse into communal politics’. The Executive body of the SC Federation met the consider the election manifesto drafted by BRA, they did not want to have any truck with the Congress, Hindu Mahasabha or the Reds.

At a meeting in Jullunder he declared that there was no place for the SC in the heart of the Congress party & added that Nehru suffered from Muslim mania. Addressing students of Lucknow university he said, ‘If we cannot save the whole of Kashmir, atleast let us save our kith & kin. It is a plain analysis of the fact which cannot be denied’. He warned the country against indifference to the backward classes & said that if they frustrated their attempts to rise to the status of equality, the SC Federation might prefer the Communist system & the fate of the country would be doomed. At a meeting in Bombay e declared that Subhash Bose who won Independence for India not the Congress. Later he said that it was one of the greatest surprises in his life how he got into the Cabinet particularly when the Congress was deadly against his entry into the Constituent Assembly.

In his whirlwind election tour Nehru criticized the alliance between the Socialists & S.C.F. and said it was strange that BRA did not oppose the Cabinet’s foreign policy though he had been a minister for nearly four years. BRA in his vehemence against the Congress, made a speech before the Muslims of Bombay, impressing upon their minds the importance of separate electorates. This speech was lamented by any many of his sympathizers & unbecoming of the Father of the Constitution. Due to bad health & poor organization as compared to the Congress, BRA / Socialist party was swept away at the polls. It was a colossal failure & BRA fell like a rocket. During his election the Congress but did not lay stress on his alternative constructive program. BRA’s defeat surprised all, he blamed it due to the machinations of S.A. Dange.

4. Conferred Doctorate - Political events had in the past affected his health curve. BRA filed towards the middle of March 1952 his nomination to one of the 17 seats allotted to the Bombay state in the Council of States & he was declared elected at the end of the month. People who disliked BRA’s caustic speeches against the Congress & Hinduism said that the great Doctor was done up. BRA had many things to do in connection with his educational activities.

At the session of the Council of States in May 1952 he said, ‘The army is eating into the vitals of the funds that are necessary for the well being of the country’. If India’s foreign policy was aimed at friendship & peace who were the enemies against whom it was necessary to maintain a huge army? Around this time came the news that BRA was to receive the Doctorate of Laws at Columbia University convocation of June 5, learning commands universal respect. On his return from America in an interview to the press he said that it was his impression that the American public was favorably inclined towards Pakistan. On inquiries he was told in America that Pakistan took great care in the selection of her foreign representatives while India sent inexperienced people.

5. Travel - BRA now traveled within Maharashtra. Addressing the annual gathering of the students of the Rajaram college he observed, ‘Knowledge is the foundation of a man’s life & every effort must be made to maintain the intellectual stamina of a man & arouse his intellect’. He asked the students to develop their thinking power & make use of the knowledge they had gained. Addressing the Belgaum branch of the S.C.F. he thundered, ‘I shall wait for the next couple of years or even till the next elections, for the alleviation of the misery of my people & if a new deal is not forthcoming through negotiations, I shall be forced to take recourse to stern measures’. Newspapers criticized the speech and although some of them realized the depth & gravity of his restlessness, many said that to them BRA was a by-word of threats.

On 12/1/1953 Osmania University Hyderabad conferred on BRA the degree of Doctor of Literature honoris causa, in recognition of his eminent position & attainments. The threats were not going in vain. In April Parliament rang with clamors for steps towards the removal of untouchability & passed a resolution calling for the enactment of a comprehensive law to deal with the problem.

In May BRA delivered in Bombay a grand eulogy on Buddhism, and reiterated his faith in & dedication to the propagation of Buddhism. While in Aurangabad he told the press in an interview that whatever be the effects of Lingusitic states once the Andhra state came into being, other linguistic states were bound to come into existence. He said he would favor two Marathi speaking states if it facilitated administration. Referring to events in Kashmir, he observed that Indians had every rights to ask the Kashmiris when they had spent crores of rupees for their safety whether they were ready to merge with India or not.

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