Hours after the inauguration of a Rs 3,000-crore statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat, BSP president Mayawati demanded an apology from those who had flayed her over the statues of Dalit leaders her government had installed in Uttar Pradesh.
“All those in the BJP, the RSS and company need to apologise, especially to the people of the Bahujan Samaj, for terming the statues installed by the then BSP government to honour icons like Baba Saheb Ambedkar and others as wasteful expenditure,” she said in a statement.
“The people of the country are also wondering if all this is not politics, and if the BJP really had this love for Patel why had they not put up such a massive statue earlier in Gujarat where they are in power for a long time,” she said. The Bahujan Samaj Party chief paid tributes to Vallabhbhai Patel, known as the ‘Iron man of India’, on his 143rd birth anniversary.
She said like Dalit leader Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Sardar Patel was also a nationalist and was widely respected. Mayawati questioned, “the politics and faith” behind the English nomenclature of the statue of the country’s first home minister, who she said was an example of Indian culture and traditions.
The 182-metre ‘Statue of Unity’ is the world’s tallest, about twice the height of the Statue of Liberty in the US. The former UP chief minister said the “foreign stamp” on the construction of Patel’s statue will always trouble Patel’s followers.
She accused the Bharatiya Janata Party and its government at the Centre of confining Patel to a region, saying this is an example of BJP’s “narrow-mindedness”. The statue was dedicated to the nation on Wednesday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Gujarat’s Kevadiya. It is built on Sadhu Bet islet near Sardar Sarovar Dam in Narmada district.
Modi slammed those criticising the decision to build the monument, questioning whether any crime had been committed by constructing such memorials for national heroes like Patel. Patel, the country’s first home minister, is credited with merging over 500 princely states into the Union of India.