Political Career of Dr. Ambedkar (1918-1956)

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is considered one of the best politicians of India. In this article we are going to know the political journey of Dr. Ambedkar. He formed 4 political parties. He served as MLC, MLA, Leader of the Opposition, MP, Minister and member of the Constituent Assembly. – Political Career of Ambedkar

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Political career of Dr Ambedkar
Political career of Dr Ambedkar

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was a member of both houses of the Parliament of India, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. He served as the first Law and Justice Minister of independent India.

He played the most important role in the Constituent Assembly of India and drafted the largest constitution in the world. Because of this, he is considered as the architect of the Indian Constitution and the father of modern India.

Babasaheb served simultaneously as a member of the Constituent Assembly, a member of the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister in the Parliament House of India.

MP Shashi Tharoor writes in his article Why India Today Shouldn’t Forget the Legacy of Ambedkar in the Times Magazine – “Arguably, there is no more important figure in contemporary India, after Mahatma Gandhi, than Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. His posthumous stature has grown enormously: a controversial figure in his own lifetime, who lost more elections than he won and attracted both opprobrium and admiration in equal measure, he is almost beyond criticism today. All Indian political parties seek to lay claim to his legacy. Yet he is not as well-known globally as he deserves to be.”

At present, the most popular and influential personality in Indian politics is Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. Dr. Ambedkar, who was active in Indian politics for about 36 years, was a great warrior of social justice. He had to face the ups and downs of politics throughout his life.

Dr. Ambedkar’s biggest strength in his political journey was his pure character and immense scholarship. He worked for all the deprived, exploited, women, workers, farmers of India but he was known only as the leader of Dalits. Babasaheb started his political career from a poor Dalit family in Maharashtra.

Today’s generation may not be aware of Dr. Ambedkar’s political contribution and his political stature, but he is considered to be the most powerful leader among the non-Congress leaders till date. On the strength of his scholarship and ability, he has the capacity to become the Prime Minister, although he was not given the responsibility of commanding powerful ministries like Finance Minister, Foreign Minister or Defense Minister.


Political life of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Dr. Ambedkar addressing public meeting

Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was a political scientist, also known as one of the greatest statesmen in Indian history. Dr. Ambedkar emerged as a socio-political leader in the early 1920s. He emphasized on eradicating the social problems of his crores of untouchables and fought for their political rights. Prior to that, he earned his MA and PhD degrees from Columbia University, and read his famous paper Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development at the university.


Testimony before the Southborough Committee

In India, the untouchables were not granted political and social rights by the British Indian government until the 1910s. In 1919, when the Franchise Committee headed by Southborough came to the Bombay Province, Dr. Ambedkar, Professor of Sydenham College, testified before the Southborough Franchise Committee on the Government of India Act 1919 as a representative of the untouchables and submitted a fifty-page memorandum. [Read more]

He fought for separate electorate. His demands were that the untouchables should have the right to vote, they should be able to stand in elections. There should be separate electorate for untouchable voters, and untouchable representatives should be elected by untouchable voters.

Under his leadership, untouchable social activists and leaders held meetings and passed a resolution regarding their demands and sent it to the British Government. Dr. Ambedkar felt that the leader should start a newspaper which would help in continuing this movement for social justice.


Member of the Bombay Legislative Council (1926–1937)

In December 1926, Bombay Governor Henry Staveley Lawrence appointed Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as a member of the Bombay Legislative Council. Dr. Ambedkar’s political journey mainly started from here.

Before becoming a member of the Council, Ambedkar had earned MSc, Dsc and Barrister degrees from London. Earlier, he also earned two MA and one PhD degrees from Columbia University. Ambedkar then became the most learned person in India.

He served as a member of the Bombay Legislative Council from 1926 until 1936. He often expressed his views and held discussions on social and economic issues in the Council. But meanwhile the untouchables had no political rights.

In 1927, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar became Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. The nickname ‘Babasaheb‘ was given to him by his followers, meaning ‘Father’ or ‘Venerable’. The famous slogan and greeting ‘Jai Bhim‘ was started in the same year.


Round Table Conference

In 1930, Babasaheb was invited as a representative of the untouchables to the first Round Table Conference held in London. In this conference, he described the pitiful condition of the untouchables in India and the social discrimination and atrocities faced by them.

He demanded the abolition of untouchability, which was worse than slavery. He prepared a manifesto of the fundamental rights of Dalits in the first and second Round Table Conferences and presented it to the committee appointed for minorities.

Babasaheb was the most educated person in the round table conference. He had three masters, two doctorates and a barrister’s degree. In fact, Babasaheb was the world’s most educated politician during his lifetime.

The first meeting of Gandhi and Ambedkar took place on 14 August 1931 at Mani Bhawan in Mumbai. In 1931, at the Second Round Table Conference, Ambedkar demanded the separate separate for the untouchables.

But Mahatma Gandhi, a representative of the Congress, strongly opposed this demand. Ambedkar’s demand was accepted by the British government. Then Gandhi started a fast unto death against this in Yerwada jail of Pune.

Pressure was brought to bear on Ambedkar, and Gandhi’s wife begged Ambedkar for her husband’s life. In the end he had to give up the separate electorate for Dalits. In 1932, this culminated in the Poona Pact.

At the national and international level, Babasaheb Ambedkar became known as the undisputed leader of the untouchables or Dalits. Also the image of Mahatma Gandhi became negative and antagonistic to the untouchables. After the Poona Pact, the relationship between Ambedkar and Gandhi remained strained.


Independent Labor Party, and Leader of the Opposition in the Bombay Legislative Assembly (1937 – 1942)

In any society, the life path of the common people of that country is shaped by the political situation. Political power embodies the aspirations of the people. Those who have it in their hands get the opportunity to realize their hopes and dreams. B.R. Ambedkar realized this.

Dr. Ambedkar believed that “Since the leadership of the Congress Party in this country is in the hands of the capitalists, landlords and Brahmins, the political power will also be in their hands and the Dalit toiling society will be treated like slaves.”

To establish the independent political identity of the untouchable classes, Babasaheb founded the Independent Labor Party in 1936, a political party based on democratic values. It opposed the caste and capitalist structures in India, supported the Indian working class and sought to dismantle the caste in India.

On February 17, 1937, 15 out of 17 candidates of this party were elected in the provincial assembly elections of Bombay Presidency. Out of the 15 candidates elected, 13 were from the Independent Labor Party and 2 were supported by the party. This was the party’s greatest success.

Dr. Ambedkar was also elected as a member of the Bombay Legislative Assembly (MLA). He also served as the Leader of the Opposition in the Bombay Legislative Assembly from 1937 to 1942. Independent Labor Party won the most seats after Congress.

In the 1937 Bombay Assembly elections, the Congress party fielded the first Dalit cricketer Balu Palvankar against Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. It was Vallabhbhai Patel‘s insistence that Balu should contest the election. In this tough election, Dr. Ambedkar got 13,245 votes while Balu got 11,225 votes.

In October 1939, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar met Jawaharlal Nehru for the first time, and on 22 July 1940, Subhash Chandra Bose met him in Bombay. This was the only meeting between Netaji and Babasaheb. Within a year, Babasaheb had met two great leaders of the country.


Scheduled Castes Federation and Labor Minister of British India (1942 – 1946)

Election Manifesto of the All India Scheduled Castes Federation, 1946

In 1942, Ambedkar founded the All India Scheduled Castes Federation to give a national form to his political party and to unite all Scheduled Castes. The main objective of the party was to campaign for the rights of the Dalit-oppressed community.

Dr. Ambedkar joined the British Viceroy’s Executive Council as Labour Member on 20th July 1942. The Viceroy’s Executive Council was the cabinet of the Government of India headed by the Viceroy of India. It is also known as the Council of the Governor-General of India.

From 1942 to 1946, Dr. Ambedkar served as the Labor Minister of British India. Apart from labour, he also held the ministries of energy and irrigation. He also served as a member in the Defense Advisory Committee of the then Central Government of India.

Babasaheb’s work as Labor Minister, Energy Minister and Irrigation Minister has been important for the building of modern India. He implemented several remedial schemes regarding labour, water and electricity. He has also spoken and provided guidance on energy literacy and water literacy.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was a patriot and freedom fighter as well. He actively participated in India’s freedom struggle. Babasaheb believed that the political power of India should be in the hands of Indians instead of the British, but he did not want that after the departure of the British, the power of government in India should remain in the hands of a few conservative Hindus.

Dr. Ambedkar was convinced that the miserable condition of the untouchables and women would not improve while conservative Hindus were in power. He wanted representation of all sections of the society in power, so that there would be improvement in all sections of the society, especially the backward classes.

Following the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan in the Lahore Resolution (1940), Dr. Ambedkar wrote a 400-page book titled ‘Thoughts on Pakistan’, in which he analyzed the concept of “Pakistan”. In 1945, the second edition of this book “Pakistan Or the Partition of India” was published.


Member of the Constituent Assembly (1946–1950)

Chairman and members of the drafting committee of the Constituent Assembly of India on 29 August 1947. (Sitting from left) N. Madhava Rao, Syed Muhammad Saadulla, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (Chairman), Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, Sir Benegal Narsing Rao. (Standing from left) S. N. Mukherjee, Jugal Kishor Khanna and Kewal Krishnan.

Babasaheb served simultaneously as a member of the Constituent Assembly, a member of the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister in the Parliament House of India.

The withdrawal of the British from India was decided and the British Parliament passed an Act and entrusted the responsibility of drafting a new constitution for India on the Indians. Many candidates stood for election to enter the Constituent Assembly.

Dr. Ambedkar also tried to go to the Constituent Assembly to protect the rights of the untouchables. But his political party ‘Scheduled Caste Federation’ could not perform well in the 1946 elections for the Constituent Assembly.

Later, Dr. Ambedkar was elected to the Constituent Assembly from a constituency in Bengal province (present-day Bangladesh), where he was helped by Jogendranath Mandal.

Babasaheb Ambedkar became a member of the Constituent Assembly of India in 1946. After the partition of India, Dr. Ambedkar’s membership was terminated, after which he was re-elected to the Constituent Assembly from Bombay Province.

On 30 August 1947, the Constituent Assembly constituted a 7-member drafting committee, in which Dr. Ambedkar was also a member. The next day on 31 August 1947, all the members of the committee unanimously elected Babasaheb as the chairman of the drafting committee.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar made the highest contribution in the making of the constitution. There were 299 members in the assembly, among whom the most learned person was Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Multi-talented Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s knowledge of law was more than any other member of the assembly. Legal Adviser B.N. Rao was the only person in the Constituent Assembly who could come close to Ambedkar in terms of legal knowledge.

Babasaheb Ambedkar had thoroughly studied the constitutions of around 60 countries of the world. The Constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India on 26 November 1949 and became effective on 26 January 1950.

Dr. Ambedkar is known as the “Father of the Indian Constitution” because of his most important contribution in the drafting of the Constitution of India. After independence, Dr. Ambedkar was appointed as the Minister of Law and Justice of India in the Nehru Cabinet.


1st Minister of Law and Justice of independent India (1947–1951)

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar being sworn in as independent India’s first Law Minister by President Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru looks on May 8, 1950.

The names of ministers in the Cabinet of India were announced on 3 August 1947 after the Indian Independence Resolution was passed by the British Parliament on 15 July 1947. In this, Dr. Ambedkar was appointed as the Minister of Law and Justice. He held this post from September 1947 to October 1951

After this, Dr. Ambedkar was performing the dual responsibility of Chairman of the Drafting Committee and Law Minister. India became independent on 15 August 1947.

Babasaheb was sworn in as the first Law Minister of independent India under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in September 1947. The Bar Association of Bombay honored him on August 6, 1947, to commemorate his becoming a minister in the first cabinet of independent India.

First cabinet of ministers of Nehru government with Law Minister Dr. Ambedkar on 31 January 1950. 

Dr. Ambedkar sent his resignation as minister to Prime Minister Nehru on September 27, 1951. Nehru accepted it the same day, but on 1 October 1951, Ambedkar wrote to Nehru requesting that the resignation be postponed until he presented his resignation in the Lok Sabha on 6 October 1951. On October 4, 1951, Nehru informed Dr. Ambedkar that his request had been accepted.

On 6 October, between 10 am and 11 am, Dr. Ambedkar was to read out his resignation letter in the Lok Sabha. But Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Ananthanam Iyengar ordered the statement to be read out at 6 pm.

Dr. Ambedkar found this change in timing unfair and walked out of the House in anger. Outside the Lok Sabha, he gave a written statement of resignation to the media/press representatives. In that statement, Dr. Ambedkar had given 5 main reasons for his resignation.


Member of Rajya Sabha (1952–1956)

After resigning from the post of Law Minister, Babasaheb Ambedkar stood in the Lok Sabha elections. He contested the first Indian Lok Sabha election of 1952 from Bombay North, but he lost to his former colleague and Congress candidate Narayan Sadoba Kajrolkar. In the same year he became a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of India.

In 1954, he again attempted to enter the Lok Sabha in a by-election from Bhandara seat, but he finished third. In this also the Congress Party candidate won. The second general Lok Sabha elections were to be held in 1957, but he died before that.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar represented Bombay State in the Rajya Sabha for two terms. His first term as a Rajya Sabha member was from 3 April 1952 to 2 April 1956 and his second term was from 3 April 1956 to 2 April 1962. But he died on December 6, 1956, during his second term.


Republican Party of India

In 1956, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar announced the dissolution of the “Scheduled Caste Federation” and the formation of the Republican Party of India (RPI). But he died before the formation of this party, and after this his associates and followers planned to form this party.

The Presidium met at Nagpur on 1 October 1957 to establish the Republican Party of India. In this meeting N. Shivraj, Yashwant Ambedkar, P.T. Borale, A.G. Pawar, Datta Katti, D.T. Rupwate was present.

On its third day, on 3 October 1957, the Republican Party of India was formed. N. Shivraj was elected party president, and he remained the president of this party till his demise. In 1957, 9 members of this party were elected in the second Lok Sabha. This is the highest achievement of Babasaheb’s party.


Politics of Babasaheb’s descendants

The descendants of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar have inherited his political legacy. But compared to Baba Saheb, his descendants achieved less political success. Babasaheb’s only one son Yashwant Ambedkar was a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council.

After him Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Babasaheb and son of Yashwant, has been MP thrice – twice for the Lok Sabha and once for the Rajya Sabha. fter these three, no one from the Ambedkar family could become an MLA or MP.

After Babasaheb’s demise, his wife Savita Ambedkar was proposed to the Rajya Sabha by PM Jawaharlal Nehru, PM Indira Gandhi and President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. But becoming a member of the Rajya Sabha with the support of the Congress Party seemed a betrayal of her husband’s principles, so she politely declined the offers all three times.

Babasaheb’s younger grandson Anandaraj Ambedkar and cousin great-grandson Rajratna Ambedkar contested the Maharashtra Assembly and Lok Sabha elections respectively, they both failed to win. Babasaheb’s great-grandson and Prakash Ambedkar’s son Sujat Ambedkar is also active in politics and works in his father’s political party, although he has not been given any position in the party nor has he ever contested any election.

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