Ambedkar wouldn't have accepted family inheritance in politics

Shashi Tharoor, who is pitted against party colleague Mallikarjun Kharge in the Congress presidential election, was speaking at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library on the launch of his new book "Ambedkar: A life".
senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor
senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor

NEW DELHI: It is a fairly safe assumption that B R Ambedkar would have "disapproved" of and been "quite critical" of the idea that political leadership should go through inheritance rather than election or other forms of merit, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said on Thursday.

Mr Tharoor, who is pitted against party colleague Mallikarjun Kharge in the Congress presidential election, was speaking at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library on the launch of his new book "Ambedkar: A life".

For someone who was "never convinced by the logic of the caste system he would not have accepted the family inheritance principle anyway in politics or anywhere else", the Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram said of Ambedkar. "...Though he (Ambedkar) has not written about it, I can tell you that it is a fairly safe assumption that he would have disapproved and would have been quite critical of the idea that political leadership should go through inheritance rather than through election or other forms of merit," said Mr Tharoor, when asked about Ambedkar's views on state parties concentrating power in the hands of respective first families.

The book launch, moderated by the author himself, had former Supreme Court judge Justice (retired) Madan B Lokur, former Rajya Sabha MP Bhalchandra Mungekar and lawyer Karuna Nundy as the panelists talking about the life and times of Ambedkar.

Praising Ambedkar for the remarkable work he did in drafting of the Constitution, Justice (retired) Lokur threw light on how much of the work was done by Ambedkar "single-handedly" as other members of the Drafting Committee were not able to give him the required assistance for the job.

"One person died, one person was sent off to America on a mission, two others were given other duties elsewhere in India. So he was left alone to do it. And he did a remarkable job, not because he has taken care of just about everything but also because he consulted a lot of people," said Justice (retired) Lokur, who is currently serving as a judge of the Supreme Court of Fiji.

There were seven members in the Drafting Committee of the Constitution -- BR Ambedkar, Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar, N Gopalaswami, KM Munshi, Mohammad Saadulla, B L Mitter and DP Khaitan.

Ambedkar was elected as the chairman of the Drafting Committee during their first meeting on 30th August 1947.

". . . Yes, there were few drafts that were in existence. The Government of India Act of 1935, which formed some kind of base, and Sir Benegal Rau had also worked on the Constitution before he went to the International Court of Justice. But really the nuts and bolts of the constitution were written by Ambedkar," he explained.

Published by Aleph, "Ambedkar: A Life" claims to offer readers a fresh and profound understanding of the Father of Indian Constitution.

Talking about the book, Mr Tharoor said there is undoubtedly drama and sufferings in Ambedkar's life -- the son of of an untouchable subedar in the cantonment town of Mhow -- but far more "consequential is the weight of his writings, speeches and interventions in the public debates of his time".

". . . This is the story of the rise of a man of ideas, illustrated with extensive quotations from his writing and speeches, and not of a man of physical adventure," he wrote in the introduction of his book.

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