Kevadiya (Guj): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday dedicated to the nation the much- awaited 182-metre high Statue of Unity in honour of coutry's first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Mr Modi urged critics not to dismiss his government's efforts to pay tributes to icons like Patel with 'political prism'.
Paying rich tributes to Sardar Patel, the Prime Minister said the towering statue will serve as a reminder about the courage and firm political commitment of a man who brought in unity among all princely states in 1947 and later and thwarted efforts to disintegrate India.
Built on Sadhu Bet Island on Narmada river, the imposing statue is twice as high as the 93-metre Statue of Liberty in New York and surpasses the China's Spring Temple Buddha by about 29 metres.
He lashed out at those skeptics and political detractors who try to see his government's efforts to show due respect to great sons of India such as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel with 'political prism'. "At times, they give an impression as if by remembering the contributions of great sons of India like Sardar Patel is an offence. Is it an offence?," Mr Modi said. The remarks from the Prime Minister came even as critics and a section of citizens on social network and micro blogging site Twitter have tried to suggest that showing tributes to the legacy of Patel was akin to election gimmick. Three Indian Air Force planes flew past the Patel figure and created the tricolour in the sky on the occasion graced among others by Gujarat Governor O P Kohli, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, BJP chief Amit Shah, Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala. The grand ceremony coincided with Patel's 143rd birth anniversary. Originally, the concept of such a grand statue was conceptualised by Mr Modi in 2010 during his stint as the Gujarat Chief Minister.
"It is in fitness of things that Sardar Patel's birthday today is being celebrated as Ekta Diwas in the country," Mr Modi said. He said it goes to the visionary statesmanship of Sardar Patel that the fundamental right is today inherent part of India's democracy. Approximately 70,000 tonnes of cement in addition to 18,500 tonnes of reinforcement steel and 6000 tonnes of structural steel have been used to build the statue - also billed as an architectural wonder.
"Had Sardar Patel not united the country, we would need visas to see lions in Gujarat or pay homage at Somnath or view the Charminar in Hyderabad," Mr Modi said, lauding the stellar role played by Sardar Patel in integrating the princely states after the partition of 1947. PM Modi described the Statue of Unity as a symbol of the country's engineering and technical capabilities. He also took part in a 'pooja' on the occasion. He also recorded appreciation of the erstwhile rulers of the princely states and said their 'sacrifice' and decision to merge with Indian union was no less. A viewing gallery has been created at a height of 135 metres at the venue to enable tourists to have a view of the dam and nearby mountain ranges.
This Statue will boost tourism and help local tribals get a regular source of income, Mr Modi said. The world's largest statue is also a symbol of 'New India' as being envisioned by his government, Mr Modi said. "This statue is recognition of contribution of tribals and farmers who contributed iron pieces and their sincerity for the unique statue," the Prime Minister said. "When I proposed this Statue on October 31, 2010, I wanted that the man deserves his due place in Indian history," the Prime Minister said. "There were skeptics who thought India's diversity will be a weakness. Sardar Patel proved the prophets of doom wrong. During the time of such skepticism, it was Sardar Patel who stood as a symbol of unity," the Prime Minister said. Sardar Patel had the unique synthesis of 'Kautiyla's diplomacy and Shivaji's bravery', Mr Modi said. UNI