Statue of Unity

Location of Statue of Unity

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The Statue of Unity is a proposed statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, a popular figure from the Indian Independence Movement. Once completed, this 182-metre-high statue will be the tallest statue in the world. It will face the Narmada Dam, and will be constructed in the middle of the Narmada River in Gujarat.

The project also includes the building of a bridge connecting the statue to the bank, visitor centre buildings, a memorial, a memorial garden, a convention centre, a hotel, an amusement park, as well as institutes and research centres.

Some noteworthy attributes of this project are:
  • Estimated time for completion: 56 months (15 for planning, 40 for construction, 2 for presenting)
  • Estimated minimum cost: Rs. 2,500 crore
  • Proposed material: Steel framing, bronze coating and reinforced cement concrete
However, it's not just the construction of the statue that has caught media's attention; it's also the methodology adopted. As the Gujarat CM Narendra Modi explained, "On the day of Sardar Patel's birth anniversary on October 31, 2013, we will launch a nation-wide campaign, covering more than five lakh villages throughout the country, to collect small pieces of iron of any tool used by farmers from each village, that will be used in building the statue of of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel."

Political drama over the Statue of Unity

Given that Modi has been declared the Prime Ministerial candidate for the BJP, the announcement is being linked with shrewd politics. Previously Modi had decided to invite the Commerce Minister Anand Sharma to lay the foundation stone, but the latter declined Modi's invitation. He contested that Modi is using Sardar Patel's legacy for political benefit: "The initiators of such a grand project must be guided by sincere motives and subscribe to noble values of Sardar. It is important that his memory must not be coloured by partisan political agenda. Misusing the name of Sardar for political propoganda as you chose to do at Patna rally with a deliberate untruth was a disrespect to his memory", Anand Sharma wrote in his letter addressed to Modi, refusing his invitation. Finally, Modi decided to lay the foundation stone himself.

Interestingly, the political tug of war had just started.

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi, during the inauguration of the renovated Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Museum in Ahmedabad, appreciated Sardar Patel's contribution to the country, it ignited fresh controversy. Apparently Modi said his speech that the Congress leader Jawarhalal Nehru did not attend Sardar Patel's funeral because of personal differences between the two.

On the contrary, Manmohan Singh averred that the veteran leader was content to be part of the Congress party. He also said that they respected each other despite their differences.

Modi later had to back out after the Congress produced video proof of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's Funeral. The Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari took the opportunity to criticize Modi in these words: "Modi has withdrawn his comment because he has little knowledge of history."

While the idea of a towering tribute to Patel is most welcome-and not to mention, a thing of pride for the country-the political grandstanding surrounding the whole exercise leaves the average Indian speechless.

Last Updated on : 31/10/2013