Hyderabad will feature a 125-foot tall statue of B R Ambedkar, the architect of Indian Constitution, just beside the city's famous landmarks such as Hussain Sagar lake and the state secretariat, in a year from now.
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhara Rao on Thursday laid the foundation stone for the construction of this giant statue while marking the 125th birth centenary of Ambedkar, just a week after announcing this move on last Friday.
The chief minister declared that the statue of Ambedkar, who is worshiped by scheduled castes among other sections of the society for his role in introducing the reservation system for the socially oppressed sections in education and employment, will be the tallest in the country.
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While Rao seized the moment of opportunity by acting quickly on the idea of building the tallest statue for Ambedkar, it was in fact his Andhra Pradesh counterpart N Chandrababu Naidu who had first announced a similar Ambedkar memorial project featuring a 125-feet tall statue in the upcoming capital city of Amaravati near Vijayawada on March 29 in the state legislative assembly.
Those who pass by Hussain Sagar would also notice a giant Budha statue standing in the middle of the lake. Touted to be the world's tallest monolith of Gautam Buddha, this statue was erected in the year 1992 even while the Telugu Desam party (TDP) founder N T Rama Rao had initiated the project when he was the chief minister between 1983-89 period. The site identified for the Ambedkar statue is right adjacent to the NTR Ghat.
However, this 58-foot tall statue would be dwarfed by the upcoming Ambedkar statue, which will be more than double the height of the former. But the two giant statues located at one place was expected to add to the charm of this place among Dalits besides the general tourists for one more reason. In his later years Ambedkar converted to Budhism along with 365,000 of his followers in Nagpur.
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Aside the competition between the two sibling states, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has been working on multiple fronts to gain the trust and confidence of scheduled caste population, which was viewed as a traditional vote bank of Congress party in the past.
The ABCD categorisation within the SC reservation quota first tried out by Naidu when he was the chief minister of the undivided AP, though the move was subsequently struck down by the Supreme Court in 2007, had divided the community's political preferences. As the majority Madiga sub-caste population is in Telangana, the demand for revival of ABCD categorisation has lost much of its steam following the bifurcation of AP.
The two ruling parties of the respective states, the TDP and the TRS, have taken several steps to get closer to the SC population while trying to weaken the support base of the opposition parties. It may be recalled that Telangana chief minister KCR had inducted his long time friend in TDP, Kadiam Srihari as the deputy chief minister to show that his government was giving a larger political importance to the SCs.
Now the two giant Ambedkar statues proposed by the two state governments come as a giant symbol of their commitment to the welfare of 13.87 million SC population of the two states.