On a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the Statue of Unity at Kevadiya village in Gujarat’s Narmada district, BSP chief Mayawati asked the BJP and the RSS to apologise to ‘bahujan samaj’ — people from marginalised and deprived sections —for criticising an earlier BSP-led government in Uttar Pradesh for building memorials and parks to honour great personalities from Dalit and Other backward Classes (OBCs).
Targeting the government, the Congress said that while Patel wanted institutions to be autonomous, the government is destroying them.
Mayawati said the 182-metre statue of Patel has been built at a cost of around Rs 3,000 crore but when her government had built memorials and parks in Lucknow and Noida to honour B R Ambedkar and other great personalities born in Dalit and OBC families, BJP and RSS leaders had criticised the move by calling it ‘extravagance’.
Paying tributes to Sardar Patel, Mayawati said Patel, like Ambedkar, was a true nationalist and took pride in Indian culture and tradition. So why name the statue in English as Statue of Unity, she asked of the government in a statement. Mayawati also said that the mark of ‘foreign construction’ in Statue of Unity will always hurt Patel’s followers. She asked BJP leaders if they really have such high regards for Patel, why was a statue not built all these years in Gujarat, where the party has been in power for decades.
Taking a swipe at the government, Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Ironic that a statue of Sardar Patel is being inaugurated, but every institution he helped build is being smashed. The systematic destruction of India’s institutions is nothing short of treason.” Rahul added that Patel was a “Congressman to the core, who had no tolerance for bigotry or communalism”.