Maharashtra cabinet's nod to buy Dr Ambedkar's London home

Mumbai: The Maharashtra cabinet here Tuesday gave its approval to a government proposal to buy a house in London where B. R. Ambedkar lived in the 1920s.

"Historical memories of an internationally acclaimed personality like Ambedkar are associated with this house, which is of great importance to the country. That's why the Maharashtra government has decided to buy it," Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said.

The deal to buy the historical property, considered a coup of sorts by the state government, was finalised Jan 24, by the state's Education Minister Vinod Tawade in London.

The property, expected to cost the state exchequer around Rs.40 crore, is likely to be thrown open as an international museum-cum-memorial by April.

Tawade said all formalities will be completed over the next couple of months and it will be inaugurated as an Ambedkar Memorial April 14, coinciding with Ambedkar's 124th birth anniversary.

The 2,050 sq. feet home is situated in a residential area at 10, King Henry's Road, NW3, where the architect of the Indian Constitution lived as a student of the London School of Economics in 1921-1922.

The state government swung into action after the home was put up for sale through an estate agent last year.

Tawade, after speaking to Fadnavis in Switzerland, met representatives of the Federation of Ambedkarites & Buddhist Organisations and the Indian high commission officials to crack the deal last month.

He added that the memorial would inform the people about Ambedkar's life, works and contribution to the country's freedom struggle and subsequent public life.

Around six months ago, the house where a plaque indicating its historic importance is displayed, was put up for auction by the owners.

The auction notice created a furore among various Dalit and Ambedkarite groups around the world who demanded that the state or central government intervene in the matter as the home had a historical significance for all Indians.

Political parties across the spectrum have hailed the state government's move, terming it as the right decision to preserve an important chapter in the Indian history.

However, Ambedkar's grandson Prakash Ambedkar earlier expressed his reservations at the state government's proposal to buy the London property.

"Since we are his legal heirs, the government should first consult us in the matter," the Dalit leader and chief of the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, had said when the state government first mooted the proposal to buy the home around five months ago.

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