A viral message on social media claims that Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar got the chance to write India's Constitution because 48 percent of the Bengali Muslim population voted for him. The message states that had Ambedkar not received those votes, he would not have been able to write the Constitution.
However, Team WebQoof looked into the claim and found that Ambedkar was initially selected from Bengal when the Constituent Assembly was formed.
However, the constituencies that he was elected from ended up being parts of Pakistan after the Partition. After this, the Congress party sponsored Dr Ambedkar to contest from the then-Bombay constituency.
When the Constituent Assembly was finally formed and began operating in earnest, Dr Ambedkar represented the Bombay constituency and not Bengal.
The following Hindi text is being widely shared –
"बाबा साहब को संविधान लिखने के लिए #संविधान_सभा में नहीं जाने दिया जा रहा था, तब बंगाल के 48% मुसलमान भाइयों ने ही बाबा साहब को चुनकर संविधान में भेजा था। खुद हमारे अपने लोगो ने वोट नही दिया था बाबा साहब को।"
[Translation: When Baba Saheb was not being allowed to join the Constituent Assembly, 48 percent of Muslim brothers in Bengal elected for him to be able to be a part of it. Our own people had not given their votes to Baba Saheb.]
Did Dr Ambedkar Get Elected to The Constituent Assembly From Bengal?
The place where Dr Ambedkar contested from – Bombay or Bengal – has been a debated topic.
Let us look at this sequentially.
As per the information available on Rajya Sabha's website, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar represented the Bombay constituency in the Constituent Assembly. His name was not present in the list of people representing Bengal.
The debate over Bengal or Bombay in the Lok Sabha
According to a report by The Indian Express, on the occasion of Dr Ambedkar's 125th birth anniversary in November 2015, Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandopadhyay said,
"When the Constituent Assembly was set up, Ambedkar represented West Bengal though he was born in Madhya Pradesh. Babasaheb Ambedkar was elected from West Bengal as Mahatma Gandhi wanted him to be inducted in the committee, but Maharashtra or Madhya Pradesh did not recommend Ambedkarji’s name."Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandopadhyay
BJP MP SS Ahluwalia objected to Bandhopadhyay's statement, noting that Ambedkar did not represent the Bengal constituency in the Assembly. After Ahluwalia's comments, TMC member and historian Sugata Bose joined to conversation and clarified the matter, saying –
"Ambedkar represented Jessore and Khulna constituencies from undivided Bengal. When Partition happened, these areas went to Pakistan Constituent Assembly. As it was important that Ambedkar was re-elected to the Constituent Assembly, he was elected from what was then Bombay Province.”Sugata Bose, Trinamool Congress member and historian
Both Bombay and Bengal Mentioned in Official Documents
We looked at the document on the debate in the Constituent Assembly on 17 December, 1946 on the Lok Sabha website. There, we saw that 'Bengal' was written next the Dr Ambedkar's name. So, the statement that he contested from Bengal first stands true.
However, on government websites, Dr Ambedkar's name falls under the list of Constituent Assembly members from Bombay. This is because the second list is from November 1949. In documents on the debate over the Constitution's draft dated 11 October 1949 too, 'Bombay' was written next to Dr Ambedkar's name.
Was Dr Ambedkar Re-Elected Under Congress' Sponsorship?
To clear any confusion over the matter, The Quint reached out to Constitution expert and former Advocate General of Chattisgarh, Kanak Tiwari.
Tiwari told us that Dr Ambedkar was sponsored by the Congress party for the Constituent Assembly.
"In the beginning, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar went to the Constituent Assembly from Bengal, but when the constituency went to Pakistan, then on the sponsorship of the Congress party, he was selected and sent from the Bombay constituency. Apart from Ambedkar, leaders from many other parties including Shyama Prasad Mukherjee were included in the Constituent Assembly on behalf of the Congress."Kanak Tiwari, Former Advocate General Chhattisgarh and Constitution expert
It is clear that Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar was elected from Bengal at the time of the formation of the Constituent Assembly, but when he was appointed the chairman of the drafting committee of the Constituent Assembly, he was elected from the Bombay constituency and joined the Constituent Assembly, not Bengal.
Evidently, the claim that Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar got the opportunity to write the Constitution because of Bengali Muslim votes is not true.