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Ambedkar’s Fears Are Playing Out

A political party is putting 'creed above country'. A poll body is ignoring various missteps.
Illustration: Pariplab  Chakraborty

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s 133rd birth anniversary was celebrated on April 14 in the midst of parties campaigning for the 2024 general elections – reminding us his of his fears concerning the constitution and our independence and of the need to take steps to save them.

While speaking in the Constituent Assembly on December 17, 1946, on the Objectives Resolution moved by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on December 13 that year, Ambedkar warned:

“…[I]f there is anybody who has in his mind the project of solving the Hindu-Muslim problem by force, which is another name of solving it by war…in order that the Muslims may be subjugated…this country would be involved in perpetually conquering, them”.

Brutal incidents such as lynching of Muslims in the name of beef and food habits, denying Muslim girls wearing hijab to access educational institutions, legislations on ‘love jihad’ in BJP-ruled states and the divisive narratives of ‘land jihad, UPSC jihad’ to target Muslims and exclude them from collective existence represent a form of war against them.

Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty

The PM’s statement that there is a “Muslim imprint” in the Congress manifesto is a dog-whistle for polarising society.

Added to it were calls by Dharam Sansads, attended by several BJP leaders, for the genocide of Muslims and other minorities. This is a declaration of war against them and Ambedkar’s fear in this regard is getting fructified.

In the Constituent Assembly he quoted Edmund Burke’s words that a nation which was to be perpetually conquered could never be governed and appealed for exercise of sovereign power with wisdom. Ambedkar persuasively said, “We can carry with us all sections of the country” and safeguard our unity by following only that approach.

The Modi regime’s polarising narratives negate his vision.

Boycott of minorities

Deeply apprehensive of the boycott of minorities from social and economic spheres, Ambedkar in his 1945 constitution, treated such boycotts as a cognisable offence and provided that future parliaments should by law prescribe stringent punishment against that offence.

The Modi regime’s silence on boycott calls by BJP MPs and leaders as also of several others from Hindutva organisations endangers Ambedkar’s vision.


On November 23, 1948 while replying to the debates on Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Ambedkar envisioned that “the application of the Code may be purely voluntary” and Parliament would certainly not force citizens to follow it.

Again on December 2, 1948, he, during a lengthy discussion on Article 13 of the draft constitution dealing with the fundamental right to profess any faith, referred to UCC and said, “No government can exercise its power in such a manner as to provoke the Muslim community to rise in rebellion”. He then sharply remarked, “it would be a mad government if it did so.”

The Modi regime, while promising UCC in its 2024 election manifesto, is disregarding those fears.

On May 16, 1949, he feared that regardless of the constitutional provision mandating independence of Election Commission of India (ECI) its Commissioners might “come under the thumb of the executive” without any constitutionally enshrined method for their appointment. The ECI now falls silent on the complaints against PM Modi and his ministers for violating the model code of conduct by reciting religious slogans and appealing to voters to cast their votes on that ground. The ECI is silent on government measures disturbing the level playing field – the arrest of a chief minister and several opposition leaders – and the financial crippling of some political parties when full-fledged election campaigns are on. Those disturbing developments accompanied by the unprecedented resignation of two of the Election Commissioners in the gap of four years – ostensibly because they differed with the CEC – prove Ambedkar’s fears that ECI might come under the thumb of the executive.

Fifty eight per ent of people surveyed by CSDS and Lok Niti stated that ECI has lost credibility. This, yet again, flags Ambedkar’s apprehensions.

Ambedkar on November 26, 1949, in his last speech at the Constituent Assembly, feared that if in independent India multiple political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds would place their creed above the country our independence would probably be lost for ever. He urged people to defend it with the last drop of their blood. A political party today putting “creed above the country” is a sure step in that direction.

S.N. Sahu served as Officer on Special Duty to President of India K.R. Narayanan.

This piece was first published on The India Cable – a premium newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas – and has been updated and republished here. To subscribe to The India Cable, click here.

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