Gujarat birth memorial waits for President

Gujarat birth memorial waits for President

MahaGujarat Movement leader and ex-Congress MP Sanat Mehta says is in touch with Pranab’s office for unveiling of a statue of Indulal Yagnik.

MahaGujarat Movement leader and ex-Congress MP Sanat Mehta says is in touch with Pranab’s office for unveiling of a statue of Indulal Yagnik.

A nine-feet tall bronze statue shrouded in a white plastic sheet stands on a pedestal on a plot of land in Sabarmati area of Ahmedabad.

This is a memorial to Indulal Kanhaiyalal Yagnik,the founding father of Gujarat,who successfully led the “MahaGujarat Movement” that led to the erstwhile State of Bombay being split in two States of Gujarat and Maharashtra 53 years ago.

One of the few surviving leaders of the MahaGujarat Movement,former MP and finance minister of Gujarat,Sanat Mehta (89),who got this memorial erected under the aegis of Swarnim Pratima Samiti,wants President Pranab Mukherjee to inaugurate it. Mehta claims his office is forwarding a request to the President through a Congress MP.


“Mukherjee is the only one who knew Indulal Yagnik as parliamentarians who worked together. Mukherjee was a deputy minister and Yagnik was an MP in the Lok Sabha,” he told The Indian Express over phone from Vadodara.

The memorial was meant to be unveiled in 2010,the year when Gujarat turned 50,but Mehta failed to get land from the state government. Finally,the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) gave him a two-acre plot for the memorial as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Mehta claims he had written a letter to CM Narendra Modi,to Ahmedabad’s Mayor and Commissioner,asking for some land to erect the statue,but did not get a reply.

“There was no question of having the statue anywhere else as the movement was strongest here and he was at the centre of it,” he says.

A copy of Mehta’s handwritten letter to Modi,dated May 29,2010,is with The Indian Express. It says,“Today,Gujarat completes 50 years. So I feel it is our responsibility to give suitable space in Ahmedabad city to a new bronze statue of Induchacha,befitting his stature”.

Municipal Commissioner Guruprasad Mohapatra said,“I do not know about any such letter. Sanat Mehta has not personally met me or handed over the letter to me. We would also have to check our policy about this before giving a reply as we already have a statue of Indulal Yagnik in the city. Also,there is an interim Supreme Court ruling saying statues can no longer be erected on public roads.”

ONGC,however,agreed to provide two acres of land near its premises in Sabarmati under its CSR initiatives.

“We decided to honour the sentiments of the people of Gujarat by donating this plot of land on October 8,2010,near our Sabarmati complex to build the statue of freedom fighter Indulal Yagnik,” said Kashyap Joshipura,the official spokesperson of ONGC.

Once land was acquired,Mehta formed “Swarnim Pratima Samiti” and collected Rs 25 lakh along with his aides,many of whom were veterans of the Mahagujarat movement themselves.

The committee got a statue made by Vivek Kolhatkar,a third-generation sculptor from Vadodara,and registered the statue with local authorities.


Kolhatkar says,“We pored over many photos of Indulal Yagnik in which he comes across as a simple man who is not very particular about what he wears and so in the statue,he is wearing a khadi shirt and a coat with four pockets,which are reminiscent of those days.”