An icon for the all sections of the society Dr. BR Ambedkar who played an instrumental role in upliftment of the especially marginalised sections of the society was forced by the Congress leadership and especially Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru to resign from his cabinet on on September 27, 1951.
Dr Ambedkar’s resignation speech in the Parliament (Ambedkar’s Writings, Vol. 14, Part Two, pages.1317-1327) exposes the real anti-SC/ST face of Congress. Excerpts from his speech are being shared below
In his resignation speech Dr Ambedkar shared the humiliation he had suffered at the hands of Pandit Nehru:
“I will first refer to matters purely of a personal character and which are the least of the grounds which have led me to tender my resignation. As a result of my being a Member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, I knew the Law Ministry to be administratively of no importance. It gave no opportunity for shaping the policy of the Government of India. We used to call it an empty soap box only good for old lawyers to play with. When the Prime Minister made me the offer, I told him that besides being a lawyer by my education and experience, I was competent to run any administrative Department and that in the old Viceroy’s Executive Council, I held two administrative portfolios, that of Labour and C.P.W.D., where a great deal of planning projects were dealt with by me and would like to have some administrative portfolio. The Prime Minister agreed and said he would give me in addition to Law the Planning Department which, he said, was intending to create. Unfortunately the Planning Department came very late in the day and when it did come, I was left out. During my time, there have been many transfers of portfolios from one Minister to another. I thought I might be considered for any one of them. But I have always been left out of consideration. Many Ministers have been given two or three portfolios so that they have been overburdened. Others like me have been wanting more work. I have not even been considered for holding a portfolio temporarily when a Minister in charge has gone abroad for a few days. It is difficult to understand what is the principle underlying the distribution of Government work among Ministers which the Prime Minister follows. Is it capacity? Is it trust? Is it friendship? Is it pliability? I was not even appointed to be a member of main Committees of the Cabinet such as Foreign Affairs Committee, or the Defence Committee. When the Economics Affairs Committee was formed, I expected, in view of the fact that I was primarily a student of Economics and Finance, to be appointed to this Committee. But I was left out. I was appointed to it by the Cabinet, when the Prime Minister had gone to England. But when he returned, in one of his many essays in the reconstruction of the cabinet, he left me out. In a subsequent reconstruction my name was added to the Committee, but that was as a result of my protest.
The Prime Minister, I am sure, will agree that I have never complained to him in this connection. I have never been a party to the game of power politics inside the cabinet or the game of snatching portfolios which goes on when there is a vacancy. I believe in service, service in the post which the Prime Minister, who as the head of the Cabinet, thought fit to assign to me. It would have, however, been quite unhuman for me not to have felt that a wrong was being done to me.
How Nehru government ignored SC/ST population
Dr Ambedkar spoke in detail about how Nehru government had put interests of SC/ST population on backburner:
I will now refer to another matter that had made me dissatisfied with the Government. It relates to the treatment accorded to the Backward Classes and the Scheduled Castes. I was very sorry that the Constitution did not embody any safeguards for the Backward Classes. It was left to be done by the Executive Government on the basis of the recommendations of a Commission to be appointed by the President. More than a year has elapsed since we passed the Constitution. But the Government has not even thought of appointing the Commission. The year 1946 during which I was out of office, was a year of great anxiety to me, and to the leading members of the Scheduled Castes. The British had resiled from the commitments they had made in the matter of constitutional safeguards for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Castes had no knowing as to what the Constituent Assembly would do in that behalf. In this period of anxiety, I had prepared a report* on the condition of the Scheduled Castes for submission to the United Nations. But I did not submit it. I felt that it would be better to wait until the Constituent Assembly and the future Parliament was given a chance to deal with the matter. The provisions made in the Constitution for safeguarding the position of the Scheduled Castes were not to my satisfaction. However, I accepted them for what they were worth, hoping that Government will show some determination to make them effective. What is the Scheduled Castes today? So far as I see, it is the same as before. The same old tyranny, the same old oppression, the same old discrimination which existed before, exists now, and perhaps in a worst form. I can refer to hundred of cases where people from the Scheduled Casts round about Delhi and adjoining places have come to me with their tales of woes against the Caste Hindus and against the Police who have refused to register their complaints and render them any help. I have been wondering whether there is any other parallel in the world to the condition of Scheduled Castes in India. I cannot find any. And yet why is no relief granted to the Scheduled Castes? Compare the concern the Government shows over safeguarding the Muslims. The Prime Minister’s whole time and attention is devoted for the protection of the Muslims. I yield to none, not even to the Prime Minister, in my desire to give the Muslims of India the utmost protection wherever and whenever they stand in need of it. But what I want to know is, are the Muslims the only people who need protection? Are the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Indian Christians not in need of protection? What concern has he shown for these communities? So far as I know, none and yet these are the communities which need far more care and attention than the Muslims.
I could not contain within myself the indignation I have felt over the neglect of the Scheduled Castes by the Government and on one occasion, I gave vent to my feelings at a public meeting of the Scheduled Castes. A question was asked, from the Hon’ble the Home Minister, whether my charge that the Scheduled Castes had not benefited by the rule which guaranteed to them 12 ½ per cent representation was true. In answer to the question the Hon’ble the Home Minister was pleased to say that my charge was baseless. Subsequently for some reason – it may be for satisfying the qualms of his conscience – he, I am informed, sent round a circular to the various Departments of the Government of India asking them to report how many Scheduled Caste candidates had been recently recruited in Government service. I am informed that most Departments in reply said “NIL’ or nearly nil. If my information is correct, I need make no commentary on the answer given by the Hon’ble the Home Minister.
From my yearly childhood I have dedicated myself to the upliftment of the Scheduled Castes among whom I was born. It is not that there were no temptation in my way. If I had considered my own interest I could have been anything I wanted to be and if I had joined the Congress would have reached to the highest place in that organization. But as I said, I had dedicated myself to the upliftment of Scheduled Castes and I have followed the adage that it is better to be narrow-minded if you wish to be enthusiastic about a cause which you wish to accomplish. You can therefore, well imagine what pain it has caused me to see that the cause of the Scheduled Castes has been relegated to the limbo of nothing.
Dr Ambedkar on undemocratic ways of Nehru
The Cabinet has become a merely recording and registration office of decisions already arrived at by Committees. As I have said, the Cabinet now works by Committees. There is a Defence Committee. There is a Foreign Committee. All important matters relating to Defence are disposed of by the Defence Committee. The same members of the Cabinet are appointed by them. I am not a member of either of these Committees. They work behind an iron curtain. Others who are not members have only to take joint responsibility without any opportunity of taking part in the shaping of policy. This is an impossible position.