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Gandhi Ashram 'redevelopment': Whither well-known Gandhi experts, Gandhians?

Sudarshan Iyengar, Ramchandra Guha
By Rajiv Shah
Rehabilitating about 200 families, mostly Dalits, living in the Gandhi Ashram premises by offering them Rs 60 lakh in order to implement a Rs 1,200 crore project called Gandhi Ashram Memorial and Precinct Development Project reportedly to bring the Ashram into its "original shape" as Gandhi established appears to me strange, to say the least.
The residents of the ashram premises have been approached to sign a consent letter agreeing to vacate their homes, according to which, either shift they shift to an alternative residential colony or accept Rs 60 lakh as compensation. Those who have signed the consent letter are being paid Rs 20 lakh as advance. About 20 of them have accepted Rs 40 lakh on vacating their houses.
In order to rehabilitate them, a circular has been issued in the name of the Ahmedabad district collector forming an eight-member coordination committee. Instead of a Gandhian who has long been associated with the committee, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani is the de facto chairman of the committee. The de jure chairman is the district collector.
Other members include well-known Modi man who has been in the chief minister's office to "keep an eye" on top State governance, K Kailashnathan, deputy collector JB Desai as member secretary, officer on Special Duty for the project, retired IAS officer IK Patel, who was associated with building the Statue of Unity, and Additional Commissioner of Police (Sector II) Gautam Parmar are also members.
Three Ashramites on the committee are Hemant Chauhan, Dhimant Badhiya and Shailesh Rathod (don't know if they are even locally considered important Gandhians), all of whom were reportedly part of the protesting group against forceful eviction. Architect Bimal Patel, who is said to be the brain behind the controversial Rs 20,000 crore Central Vista project, has been commissioned to prepare a detailed plan for ‘modernising’ the Gandhi ashram premises.
I have little doubt that the Ashramite families, willy nilly, will accept the government package, as they have little choice but to succumb to the powerful pressure to vacate the premises for clearing way for what is going to be another dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I peripherally know one family, which lives there -- they are Gandhians who have taken part in several social movements.
I have two main worries: First of all, will this project become another Mahatma Mandir, which in the name of Gandhi seeks to be a showpiece for VIPs? It's such a pain visiting the museum in Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. You have to wait there, sometimes for a couple hours -- ad only guided tours are allowed in there. You cannot go in in your own, negating the informality of Gandhi.  
Secondly, there is little noise from among the Gandhians on the type of project this one should be. I don't see a Sudarshan Iyengar, former vice chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapeeth, or chancellor an Elaben Bhatt, speak up, not to talk of those who consider themselves as top followers of Gandhi. Even well known Gandhi experts ranging from Tridip Suhrud to Ramchandra Guha haven't given their mind on the issue. Will they? Let's wait and see... 

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