Baba Sahab’s lessons for
Advani, Joshi and Priyanka Gandhi
Dr BR Ambedkar was indeed a man of principles. He set a great example for the likes of LK Advani, MM Joshi, Priyanka Gandhi and others to follow as after quitting the Nehru cabinet on October 31, 1951, he vacated his official residence, 22, Prithviraj Road in New Delhi, early next day and shifted to 26 Alipur Road.
Even though Dr Ambedkar could live there for a couple of months as rules permit, he decided otherwise. Although some of his followers offered him accommodation in Karol Bagh area, he settled for Alipur Road.
Nanak Chand Rattu, Dr Ambedkar’s PA, once told yours truly that the very day he quit the cabinet, the erstwhile Raja of Sirohi met him. He requested Dr Ambedkar to live at his 26 Alipur Road house. Dr Ambedkar agreed to shift to Alipur Road but with one rider that he would pay a token amount as rent. Reluctantly, the Raja agreed.
And the next day (November 1, 1956), Dr Ambedkar left his official home lock, stock and barrel with Savita Ambedkar and shifted to 26 Alipur Road.
It is a known fact that not many leaders like to vacate their Lutyens bungalows so easily. They try every trick to retain their bungalows. Dr Ambedkar lived in his new house till December 6, 1956, when he died in his sleep. At 26 Alipur Road, only his cook Sudama used to live. Rattu-ji lived in Kingsway Camp area and would stay with Dr Ambedkar from 9 am to 9 pm.
Dr Ambedkar used to meet activists, intellectuals and his followers at 26 Alipur Road for hours together. Simple lunch was served to them. Those were the early days of freedom from the British Raj and Partition of the country. Therefore, more often than not discussions revolved around these subjects. He started reading extensively here as he was free from his official responsibilities.
He had more time to spend on reading and writing. Here at Alipur Road, Dr Ambedkar wrote his classic text Buddha and his Dhamma. It is a treatise on Buddha’s life and Buddhism and was the last work of Ambedkar.
And despite his busy schedules of meeting people and reading, Dr Ambedkar used to go for a walk in the Ridge area. And as the Delhi University campus was very close to Alipur Road, the teachers and students from DU were regular at his place. Very often, he used to present his books such as The Annihilation of Caste, Who were the Shudras?, The Buddha and His Dhamma to those who visited him.
After his demise, Savita Ambedkar lived here for another three years. Later, the Raja of Sirohi sold this historic house to a local businessman, Madan Lal Jain. Years later, on the demand of Dr Ambedkar’s followers 26, Alipur Road was converted into his memorial in 2003.
( My edited article. It was published in DNA in 2017)