From Ambedkar to Mayawati

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Patangbaazi greets one at the magnificent Parivartan Sthal (Ambedkar Memorial Park) complex constructed by the orders of Chief Minister Mayawati and completed by 2009-10. It is a park today and has from khomche to ice-cream, from couples to families, from beggars to bourgeoisie and all castes in the midst. Stretching along the river-front, a tourist-spot complete with statues and footpaths, in marbles and sandstones, it has a marvellous sense of space. An extraordinary, larger-than-life and gargantuan assertion of identity, dignity and deities – Ambedkar and wife, Kanshiram and Mayawati on opposite sides – this is not merely a reclaiming, recovery of history. It is not even an attempt to re-write history. This set-up, so reminiscent of the Lincoln and Luther King Memorials in Washington, is a grabbing of past and present by its throat and laying down a marker for future. 

The geometrically precise, expansive space – rational and theistic with its human-Gods – has a jarring note struck by the VIP Lounge on one side of the entrance with the other side being for reserved for others. One long path takes tourist-pilgrims to a stupa-hill, rock-cut alignment with huge mural depictions of Ambedkarite Buddhism from deeksha to nirvana. Hues of blue lighting enhanced the sandstone, soil-coloured backdrop amidst which stood exceptionally well-done, real-life-likeness statues. Ambedkar is sitting majestically in the Lincoln pose in the sanctum-sanctorum. On the circular walls, on one side, Ambedkar is ‘giving’ the gift of Constitution to Babu Rajendra Prasad, the upper-caste Chairman of the Indian Constituent Assembly and on the other, Ambedkar is shown receiving the gift of deeksha from a Baudh-Bhikshu. 

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