Days after the central government renamed New Delhi's historic Rajpath as Kartavya Path, former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi wants Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi to rename the Central Vista 'Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar Parisar'.
Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha is an ally of the month-old Mahagathbandhan government in Bihar formed after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar walked out of his Janata Dal-United party's alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The Mahagathbandhan consists of the JD-U, Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Congress, the Hindustani Awam Morcha, the Left parties and other smaller parties in Bihar.
Manjhi's demand to rename the Central Vista after Dr Ambedkar is meant to embarrass Modi, who declared that the name 'Rajpath' was a direct link to the British Raj, colonialism and slavery.
Manjhi, a Dalit leader who belongs to the Musahar caste, was chosen by Nitish Kumar as his successor after he briefly resigned as chief minister in 2014.
Manjhi later resigned from the JD-U and subsequently formed the Hindustani Awam Morcha, which has 4 MLAs in the Bihar assembly.
"If Rajpath was a symbol of slavery, how is the Central Vista not a symbol of slavery?" asks Danish Rizwan, a senior Hindustani Awam Morcha leader, who is considered close to Manjhi.
"Are there a shortage of names that connect it to Indianness?" Rizwan asks again.
"The government should take our leader Manjhi's demand seriously to change the name of Central Vista to Ambedkar Parisar," says Rizwan.
The Central Vista is an ambitious redevelopment project by the central government.
The redevelopment project consists of the new triangular Parliament building, 10 buildings of the central secretariat, revamping Rajpath, a new prime minister's residence and office, a new vice-president's enclave, a central conference centre, additional buildings for the National Archives, among others.
The Central Vista was conceived in 2019 at an estimated cost of Rs 20,000 crore (Rs 200 billion) and involves projects spread over 6 years till 2026.
Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com