Kevadiya, October 31: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday inaugurated an imposing 182-metre statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the world’s tallest, and said it will serve as a reminder about his courage to thwart conspiracy to disintegrate India.
He used the occasion to slam those criticising the decision to build the monument, questioning whether any crime had been committed by constructing such memorials for national heroes like Patel.
The imposing monument, named as the ‘Statue of Unity’ and built on an islet Sadhu Bet near Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat’s Narmada district, is much higher than even the Statue of Liberty in the US.
The monument was conceptualised by PM Modi during his tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister and he had laid the foundation stone for it in 2013.
Patel, the first Home Minister of Independent India, is credited with merging 500 princely states into the Union of India. He had used force to annex princely states of Junagadh ruled by Nawab and Hyderabad ruled by nizam, both of whom had wished not to merge their states with the India union.
The ceremony, which coincided with the 143rd birth anniversary of Patel, also known as the ‘Iron man of India, was attended by Gujarat Governor O P Kohli, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and BJP chief Amit Shah besides a number of other leaders hailing from Gujarat.
“The world’s tallest statue would remind the entire world, the future generations about the courage, capabilities and resolution of the person who did this holy work of thwarting the conspiracy to disintegrate Mother India into pieces,” the prime minister said addressing a gathering after inaugurating the monument.
“The statue will remind those who question India’s existence, that this nation was, is and will remain eternal,” Modi said.
“This (statue) is a source of unity…With this sentiment we should march…And march with a dream to make the country ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ (One India, Superior India),” he added.
PM Modi said his government has taken up the cause of bringing to life the history and contributions of great personalities.
“During the last four years, our government has set up many memorials of our national heroes, including this sky-high statue of Sardar Patel, his museum in Delhi, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar’s Panch Tirth and a memorial dedicated to son of Gujarat’s soil, Shyamji Krishna Varma,” he said.
He then listed various other upcoming memorials and initiatives, such as Chhatrapati Shivaji’s statue in Mumbai and a museum dedicated to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
“But, to my surprise, some people of this country are seeing our movement through the political glasses. We are criticized for praising the contributions of national heroes like Sardar Patel. We are made to feel as if we have committed a serious crime,” he said.
He then posed a question to the audience, “You tell me, is it a crime to remember our national heroes?”
To this, the audience replied in the negative.
“It was the sentiment of crores of Indians that the man who united the country should get honour he deserved,” Modi said.
The statue has been built using over 70,000 tonnes of cement, 18,500 tonnes of reinforcement steel, 6,000 tonnes of structural steel and 1,700 metric tonnes of bronze, which was used for the outer cladding of the structure.
A viewing gallery has been created at a height of 135 metres inside the statue to enable tourists to have a view of the dam and nearby mountain ranges.(Agencies)