Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday laid the foundation stone of Dr BR Ambedkar International Memorial at Indu Mills compound here, amid a boycott by Shiv Sena, its ally both in the state and the central government.
During the inauguration function, PM was accompanied by Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, Union Shipping and Ports Minister Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The grand memorial to Ambedkar, the chief architect of Indian Constitution, has been proposed to be constructed at Indu Mills compound by the Maharashtra government at a cost of over Rs 4 billion on 12.5 acres of prime land at Dadar.
The landmark memorial will be constructed on a plot of land near the existing Chaityabhoomi where Ambedkar was cremated, on the shores of Dadar Chowpatty, on December 7, 1956, a day after his death in Delhi.
Modi, who arrived here on a half-day visit, visited the Chaityabhoomi in Dadar, where Ambedkar was cremated and paid homage to the great Dalit leader.
Conspicuous by their absence were Shiv Sena leaders starting from party president Uddhav Thackeray to city Mayor Snehal Ambekar following a decision to boycott Modi's functions in the city today.
The opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party also criticized Fadnavis for "converting a national function" into a party function and not inviting other party leaders for the event.
"We welcome the foundation stone laying ceremony of Ambedkar Memorial, the project initiated by the Congress-NCP government. We regret Maharashtra government's attempts to politicize it by portraying it as a BJP function," said senior state Congress leader and legislator Sanjay Dutt.
"Fadnavis is a man with small heart. He should have personally invited NCP president Sharad Pawar who had championed the cause of Indu Mills. It was the NCP which had demanded that Ambedkar Memorial should be set up there," NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said in a statement.
Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam thanked Modi for "carrying forward" the party's project to make the world-class Ambedkar Memorial.
Referring to the boycott by hiv Sena, Nirupam tweeted: "Complete breakdown in Maharashtra ruling alliance - they hate each other like 'sautan' (mistress)."
Most banners and hoardings on the function in different parts of the city blacked out the Shiv Sena or other parties with the focus on BJP national and state leaders.
According to plans, the Ambedkar Memorial will have am over 100 feet tall statue of Ambedkar, a museum, a library and research centre and other facilities for tourists.
Besides the above event, PM also attended the foundation laying event of an ambitious project which will more than double the capacity of the country's largest container port Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in next two years.
PM Modi laid the foundation stone at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), situated off the financial capital's eastern seafront, for the Rs 7,900 crore fourth terminal project to be carried out in two phases.
The port aspires to be among the top 15 of the world with the implementation of several infrastructure projects, including the fourth terminal. At present it is ranked 31st.
The terminal will help the exim trade, and comes at a time when the country is aspiring to be a manufacturing powerhouse which is clear through the government's flagship 'Make in India' initiative.
The fourth terminal project is being executed by Bharat Mumbai Container Terminal, a subsidiary of Port of Singapore, on a design, built, fund, operate and transfer basis under which JNPT will get a 35.9 per cent share in revenues.
PM further laid the foundation stone for Dahisar to DN Nagar Metro & Dahisar (East) to Andheri (East) metro corridors in Mumbai.
With Agency inputs