The first two days of Parliament's winter session were meant to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Ambedkar's birth, with a discussion on our Continued commitment to the constitution. As expected, this has meant plenty of praised for Ambedkar as well as lamenting over the state of the Indian republic. In the process, parliamentarians have displayed how readily they will fall back on Ambedkar's words to defend their actions or beliefs today.
Ambedkar on Aamir Khan
The first instance of this came right away, with Home Minister Rajnath Singh's introductory remarks making an immediate reference to actor Aamir Khan's recent comments about staying in India despite his family's concerns about safety. Singh sought to suggest that Ambedkar would have never even considered such a thing. "Even as he faced insults, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar never thought about leaving India," Singh said. Ambedkar did spend some of his life outside the country, when he was studying at Columbia University in New York and at the London School of Economics.
Ambedkar on the Aryan Invasion Theory
Angered by this statement, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge resurrected the Aryan Invasion Theory to claim that Ambedkar was a "true Indian" unlike all the "Aryans" who had brought up the idea that he might run away from the country. "Ambedkar wanted to run away? Wo toh mool bharatiya the. (He was an original Indian). You have come from abroad," Kharge yelled. This is doubly ironic because not only was Ambedkar a life-long opponent of the Congress party that was attempting to defend his honour, Ambedkar also though the Aryan Invasion Theory was leaky and deserved to be thrown on the scrap heap.
Congress has always held Dr Ambedkar in the highest regard: Sonia. Indira. Died 1984 Bharatratna 1971 Ambedkar. Died 1956 Bharatratna 1990
— Anand Ranganathan (@ARangarajan1972) November 26, 2015
Ambedkar on Ram Rajya
Both the Congress Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party have fallen back on the concept of Ram Rajya to invoke an image of ideal governance built on ancient Indian traditions. This invocation of Ram Rajya often has problematic connotations because of how it was raised around the time of the Ayodhya Ram Mandir agitation. Rajnath Singh on Thursday sought to suggest that the idea had Ambedkar's stamp on it. Speaking of the words Ambedkar did add in the preamble to the Constitution, Singh pointed out, the word "democracy". "If you look into India's ancient history, you won't find a greater democrat that Lord Ram," Singh said, explaining his argument by pointing out how Ram is said to have forced his wife, Sita, into an agnipariksha (test of fire) simply because an ordinary person had questioned her fidelity. In Singh's eyes, "these ancient values are what Ambedkar has put into the constitution's preamble."
It is 2015, dear women of India and an agni pariksha is still the touchstone to prove your virtue.
— Kiran Manral (@kiranmanral) November 26, 2015
Ambedkar's work, The Riddles in Hinduism, is less complimentary about Ram and his treatment of Sita.
Ambedkar on interlinking of rivers
It's not known to most people, who only remember him as the architect of the constitution, but Ambedkar also had a big impact on the country's economic policymaking. He was instrumental in several river valley projects as well as dams, and helping set up the waterway and irrigation commission. Parliamentary Affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu even credited Ambedkar with an ambitious plan that has since been championed by his Bharatiya Janata Party.
"The most favourite thing for the people of the country, even for people like me also, the proposal of interlinking rivers was his suggestion at that time," Naidu said.
Ambedkar on Andhra vs Telangana
Possibly the most blatant attempt of your Ambedkar vs our Ambedkar was when two Members of Parliament, each from the bifurcated Andhra Pradesh and the newly formed Telangana respectively, attempt to explain which side he would have been.
Rammohan Naidu attempted to insist that the way the previous government had acted, by bifurcating the Andhra Pradesh, went against Ambedkar's policy of true federalism, since it had been done despite a resolution in the Andhra assembly. Jitender Reddy, however, said that it was irresponsible to say the constitution had divided people in allowing for the bifurcation. "I just want to say that history is history, it is over. Let them be happy in their State and we will be happy in our State. They should not unnecessarily today start blaming the Constitution or any other person for this," he said.
Ambedkar on Sanskrit
Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani, who has gotten into some trouble over the question of Sanskrit teaching, decided to use Ambedkar again as an explanation for her actions. Irani repeated an old anecdote about Ambedkar supporting a resolution to make Sanskrit the country's national language, instead of Hindi. Ambedkar is reported to have been asked about this, to which he replied, "What is wrong with Sanskrit?"