Had Sardar Patel been alive today, he would have never endorsed a project like Statue of Unity. Sardar Patel was a lifelong critic of wasteful expenditure and would have never liked such an extraordinary amount to be spent on a mere statue. Modi has constantly claimed Patel’s legacy, blaming Congress for giving a short shrift to one of the tallest leaders of India.
It was a very clever ploy on the part of Modi to tap Gujarati pride and signal the rise of another strong leader from Gujarat after Sardar Patel. He wanted to glow in the reflected glory of the towering personality of Patel and in that way the statue is more about himself as it is about Patel.
The popular perception about this project is that it is a 3000 Cr Rupees showpiece built especially for reaping electoral dividends. If we take the overall farm distress and the protests by the Adivasis of Narmada district into account, this extravagant exercise will appear almost criminal.
The present Govt cannot claim this to be an architectural feat because it is difficult to sell this as an Indian achievement considering the extensive work by Chinese companies in the project. Not long ago, Mayawati, the dalit icon and the ex UP Chief Minister paid heavily for making statues of prominent dalit leaders in Lucknow and Noida. Her action stoked public anger and contributed to her political downfall. In fact, BJP was in the forefront of the agitation in attacking her for wasting states’s precious resources in making statues.
Presently, the BJP government is passing through a tricky period as jobs have nonexistent, banks are in trouble owing to spiraling NPAs, petrol and diesel prices have reached almost the century mark and every day new scams are emerging. The second anniversary of demonetisation — another Modi’s ill thought and haphazardly implemented project is also coming up next week. It is obvious the Govt was looking for a suitable subterfuge to distract masses from the core issues and statue of Unity just fits the bill.
The only conceivable purpose behind this costly project is politics where a 3000 crore rupees of taxpayers’ money is spent to satisfy the false pride of the top leadership of BJP who happily ignore the crises we face today. Sardar Patel was a firm believer in the well being of farmers who are presently burdened with debt and unrumenarative pricing of their produce. Thousands of farmers in India have committed suicide in last few years because agriculture today has become a thankless job. Agriculture practices in India are still done in a primitive manner as it lacks even basic infrastructure which in turn makes it highly unprofitable.
Sardar Patel was India’s first home minister but if we see our Police force, it lacks transparency and modernisation. If the Govt was really interested in paying tribute to Sardar Patel, the least it could have done was to take some concrete steps to improve our police department which still seems to be in pre independence mindset. There is no dearth of similar and pressing issues of the nation today where this money could have been utilised.
Today, if we want to pay homage to the great man, it should be done by initiating changes in his name which could uplift the lot of common people. Unfortunately, this Govt is more interested in tokenism and they have a devious thinking that why improve things for the poor when the govt could show big statues and booming stock market to put a facade of growth and development. It is high time we stop ‘idol’ worship and start ‘ideal’ worship.