BJP president J P Nadda on Tuesday accused the Congress of never giving B R Ambedkar the respect due to the dalit icon but said the Modi government has "fulfilled" his vision and followed the path he showed.
Paying rich tributes to the architect of India's Constitution, on his 129th birth anniversary, Nadda contrasted BJP's respect for him with the alleged indifference of the Congress.
Despite severe opposition, Ambedkar never compromised with his values and raised issues of social inequality and discrimination, Nadda said, noting that he resigned as law minister while fighting for the rights of women.
"It is unfortunate that during the lifetime of Babasaheb when the Congress was in power, it never gave him the respect due to him. What is also unfortunate that he was given the Bharat Ratna four decades after his death," Nadda said in a message to BJP workers. He also asked party workers to follow his ideals.
Ambedkar, a crusader for dalit rights and social equality, was given India's highest civilian award in 1990 during the V P Singh-led National Front government, which was supported by the BJP.
Nadda noted that the Modi government has elevated five places, including where Ambedkar was born and died, as 'panch tirth' (five pilgrimages), asserting he was and will remain an ideal for the BJP in its efforts to empower the backward sections of society.
He asked BJP workers to help the poor in this time of a pandemic, saying this will be the best tribute to Ambedkar.
What Ambedkar had envisioned has been fulfilled by the Modi government which, Nadda added, has followed the path shown by him to work for the welfare of all sections of society.
Leaders cutting across party lines paid rich tributes to Dr B R Ambedkar on his 129th birth anniversary on Tuesday and urged people to light a lamp at home as mark of respect to the Dalit icon and not venture out.
In view of the lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak, celebrations were subdued as Ambedkar's followers and politicians did not flock 'Chaitya Bhoomi', the Constitution architect's memorial in central Mumbai.
Maharashtra Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray offered floral tributes in front of a photograph of Ambedkar at his residence 'Matoshree' in suburban Bandra.
Thackeray in a statement said Ambedkar upheld principles of freedom, equality and brotherhood.
"We should preserve these principles to keep the country united," he said.
State Governor B S Koshyari offered floral tributes to Ambedkar in Raj Bhavan, while Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar paid his respects at the Dalit icon's portrait at the state secretariat.
Union minister Ramdas Athawale appealed to Ambedkar's followers to stay indoors.
"Garland Babasaheb's portrait at 11 am in the morning and in evening light lamp of equality outside your homes," he said in a tweet.
The minister said Ambedkar had shown the path of equality to discrimination prevailing in the society.
NCP president Sharad Pawar said Ambedkar was a symbol of knowledge.
"Let us stay indoors and pay tribute to Ambedkar who was known as a symbol of knowledge. Let us light a lamp for the Constitution of India," he tweeted.
Mumbai Congress president Eknath Gaikwad in his message said, "Let us strive together to work towards a just and equal India. Ambedkar was the architect of our Constitution and also the driving force behind our greatest institutions."
The Maharashtra Congress on its Twitter handle described Ambedkar as a "great crusader of social equality".
Shiv Sena leader and state Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray in a tweet said, "My humble tributes to the architect of Indian Constitution Bharat Ratna Babasaheb Ambedkar."
Senior BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis also tweeted his respects to Ambedkar.