In history textbooks while growing up, we are shown only two sides of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar: Dalit icon and Father of the Indian Constitution. However there were many other facets to this multiple personality.
A look at some of them…
Gandhi’s intellectual rival: Most of the freedom fighters generally went along with Mahatma Gandhi and the few who opposed him like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had to leave. Ambedkar was a rarity who sparred with Gandhi all the way.
They differed on the way caste problems should be handled and the effectiveness of Satyagraha. He called the bluff of Gandhi’s impractical rural utopia. Ambedkar believed in both industrialization and agriculture. He saw the importance of both villages and cities.
While Gandhi by and large had a one-dimensional approach, Ambedkar was a politician, economist, juristand also professor and he wrote books on multiple topics.
However he suffered for this. Nehru was the biggest disciple of Gandhi and ruled till death. Ambedkar on the other hand soon found himself on the sidelines of the Congress party.
Nehru’s political rival: After we got Independence, the freedom movement, India, the Congress and Gandhi were all equated with each other. There was absolutely no political or intellectual space outside this equation.
Ambedkar was the first to realize the fallacy of this one-dimensional approach. In many ways he was a bigger intellectual than our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and couldn’t work under him.