What is the Statue of Unity Hiding?
Updated: Dec 2, 2018
The Statue of Unity, the world’s tallest statue, has come under media and public scrutiny. A tribute to Sardar Vallabhai Patel, who headed States Department responsible for the integration of over 565 Princely States to the newly formed state of India, the statue cost an estimate of Rs. 2,989 Crores ($ 430 Million).
The contention with the statue is not with the leader, but with the whole ideology behind choosing the leader. BJP’s appropriation of Sardar stems from the fact that no Hindu Right-Wing leader was an integral part of the Indian independence movement. The Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS were virtually absent from the three watershed movements of the Independence struggle namely, Non-Cooperation, Civil Disobedience and Quit India Movement. Even after Independence, none of the Right Wing Leaders participated in any major political upheavals, except in 1969 when the Janta Party came to power. But that too failed as the leaders were far too self-centered to work with any unity. Political spectators feel that the statue has political undertones as it undermines Jawaharlal Nehru and in turn Congress along with cementing the Hindu Right Wing’s contribution in the struggle for Independence. This political stunt fails to acknowledge the works of V. P. Menon and Lord Mountbatten in integrating the Princely States with India. These were equally important constituents of the State Department as Sardar Vallabhai Patel.
The exorbitant price of the statue also highlights the BJP’s use of such grandiose as a political vehicle before elections. According to IndiaSpends.com’s calculations, the construction cost of the statue is more than double the estimated amount for proposals submitted to the central government by the Gujarat government to include in Pradhanmantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (Prime Ministers Agriculture-Irrigation Scheme). The construction cost could have been used to irrigate 40,192 hectares of land, cover repair, renovation and restoration of 162 minor irrigation schemes and the construction of 425 small check-dams. With the same amount of funds, the government could have sponsored six ISRO Mars missions or funded two IIT Campuses. This is coming from the same Government which failed to provide Kerala with adequate funds in times of a natural calamity. The manner in which the government seems to be prioritizing its history over its present and future has severely affected the satisfaction that the Indian population has with its current government. The construction of the Statue also displaced 75,000 tribals from the area used for tourist attractions. The tribals are yet to receive compensation and rehabilitation with proper water and living facilities. The government is yet to give out jobs as compensations in 13 villages affected by the construction of the statue.
Sardar Vallabhai Patel, a man overshadowed by Nehru in the post-independence era has been wrongly interpreted and broadcasted as his political opposition by a party that has completely failed to analyze Indian history accurately.