Tuesday 28 June 2022
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Lata Mangeshkar refused to sing song dedicated to Ambedkar: Fact or myth?

Rebellious poet Waman Dada Kardak had spread the word through his memoir that Lata Mangeshkar had told him 'tya Mahardyache gaane mi ganar nahi'

The sad news of the death of India’s most accomplished playback singer Lata Mangeshkar had just arrived on 6 February when some self-styled flagbearers of Dalit pride emerged on social media platforms to say that they would not lament the passing of a Brahmin woman who allegedly refused to lend her voice to a song dedicated to constitution-maker Bhimrao Ambedkar, the tallest of Dalit icons in modern history.

The conspiracy theory, quite popular in Scheduled circles and communist upper castes that keep instigating them, stem from the story that a group of Marathi singers and poets led by Waman Dada Kardak from the SC community had approached Lata Mangeshkar to sing what they refer to as a “Bhim geet“. Besides the rebel poet Kardak, the delegation had Dalit Panther movement’s Namdeo Dhasal and Raja Dhale.

Long after the meeting, Kardak and others spread the word through his memoir that Lata Mangeshkar offered the delegates a delicious meal but refused to sing their Bhim geet. Kardak quoted the singer as saying, “Tya Mahardyache gaane mi ganar nahi [I will not sing the song of a Mahar (a supposed lower caste)].” The incident, however, has in so many years since that never been corroborated by anyone including Kardak’s companions of that day.

However, not caring for substantiation of the claim, the myth was propagated in public events such as this one held at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University.

The claim sounds fishy as, time and again, Lata Mangeshkar paid tributes to Babasaheb till the time she was alive. The following is an instance from Twitter:

While Lata Mangeshkar was no doubt a firm believer in Hindutva, beginning with her adulation for Veer Savarkar and support to the government perhaps out of the same ideological conviction, she was an equally proud Marathi that Ambedkar was too.

Namaskar. Bhartiya samvidhan ke janak mahamanav Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar ji ki jayanti par main unko koti-koti vandan karti hoon. (Namaskar. On the birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar, the father of the great Indian Constitution, I offer him a ceremonial offering)” Lata Mangeshkar had tweeted in 2020.

Lata Mangeshkar was also proud to have got an opportunity to meet Ambedkar in person, just as she found herself fortunate to have met VD Savarkar too. “Main unko pratyaksh roop se mil saki ye mera saubhagya hai. (It is my good fortune that I got the chance to meet him),” the legendary singer‘s tweet read further.

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