Each year on this day, the Parliament Street in Delhi bustles with performers, lecturers, writers and lakhs of people who come from across the country to pay respects to BR Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian constitution and the figure of inspiration for many communities, including Dalits. All across the street, usually, there's hardly any space for visitors to stand. The gates of Parliament are opened on this day to allow people to garland Ambedkar's statue.
This year the Parliament Street will remain empty because of the restrictions placed due to the coronavirus pandemic. But many organisations and Dalit groups have found an alternative to commemorate BR Ambedkar on his 129th jayanti. The National Confederation of Dalit and Adivasi Organisations (NACDAOR) has created a website allowing people to virtually garland Ambedkar's statue and light lamps in his honour.
"The technical Team of NACDAOR has circulated a link which can be used to observe and pay online tribute to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. As soon as people visit NACDAOR’s website, they will have a page with Ambedkar’s quotation and they can press or click a button to pay their tribute," said Ashok Bharti, chairperson, NACDAOR. He says that NACDAOR is trying to create a world record for the largest online gathering of its kind on April 14.
As soon as the link went live on April 13, the website started getting thousands clicks from people wanting to pay homage to Ambedkar, said Bharti. "We are sensitive towards the message of social distancing and lockdown measures that the Prime Minister has announced. But we wanted people for whom this is a big event to find an alternative to celebrate this day," Bharti said.
Apart from Dalit and adivasi organisations many other organisations have made their own plans to commemorate this day, on which Ambedkar was born in Madhya Pradesh's Mhow district. This includes political parties and heads of various states. For instance, BJP president JP Nadda has asked all party workers and state unit heads to distribute ration kits and face covers as the nation struggles to fight the battle against coronavirus.
BSP chief Mayawati has appealed to her party workers to follow the lockdown restrictions and pay their tributes from homes because of the spread of coronavirus. The BSP supremo described Ambedkar as “a symbol of humanistic thought and sacrifice,” in a tweet.
“A symbol of humanistic thought and sacrifice, Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar is a source of motivation for his followers especially BSP workers. But in the current Covid-19 pandemic scenario, it is an appeal to all to follow restrictions imposed by the government, and celebrate the anniversary in their homes and pay tributes.”
The Uttar Pradesh unit of the Communist Party of India (CPI) said it will commemorate Ambedkar Jayanti as ‘sabhi ko bhojan, sabhi tak ilaaj diwas’, demanding food and medical treatment for all.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ordered all ministers and officials to individually pay floral tributes in their office.