India inaugurated the world’s tallest statue of independence hero Vallabhbhai Patel
Kevadia. India on Wednesday inaugurated the world’s tallest statue, a $400-million effigy of independence hero Vallabhbhai Patel that towers nearly twice the height of New York’s Statue of Liberty.
The 182-metre (597-ft) steel and bronze “Statue of Unity”, in the prime minister’s western home state of Gujarat, is part of his Hindu nationalist party’s efforts to re-brand what it calls “forgotten” leaders.
“Patel wanted India to be a forceful, strong, sensitive, vigilant and accommodative nation, and we’re working towards that,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at Wednesday’s ceremony.
Modi, who ordered the statue built on the Narmada river when he was Gujarat chief minister, said last year there had been efforts to “belittle” or “remove from history” the contributions of Patel, who helped unite India’s 562 princely states as the first home, or interior, minister.
Funds for the statue came from the federal government, state-run companies and other institutions, and it was built in 33 months by construction and engineering company Larsen & Toubro Ltd.
Depicting the bald Patel in traditional attire, with a shawl over the shoulders, the statue used 210,000 cubic metres of cement, 25,000 tonnes of steel and 1,700 tonnes of bronze.
Some of the leaders Modi has branded as “forgotten” came from the opposition Congress party, and fought for independence from colonial ruler Britain in 1947.
Facing five state elections and a general election due by May, Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are reaching back into history for alternatives to the heroes of the Nehru-Gandhi family that dominated Congress.
The BJP says Congress has deliberately ignored leaders such as Patel, B.R. Ambedkar, who led the drafting of the constitution, and freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose as reported by Reuters.