Gujarat CM Narendra Modi along with BJP patriarch LK Advani laid foundation stone to build the tallest statue in the world, twice the size of Statue of Liberty, in honour of one of the country's founding fathers Sardar Valabhbhai Patel at Sardar Sarovar in Gujarat's Narmada River.
The 182-metre iron and bronze statue will be built at a cost of ₹2074 crore ($340 million). It is going to be financed by the Modi government and public donations.
The NDA prime ministerial candidate took the opportunity to criticize media and rival Congress for accusing Modi of associating Sardar Patel with the BJP.
He praised the secular preaching of Sardar Patel during his lifetime by uniting a diverse country like India. He also hinted that the statue, when completed, should be added among the Wonders of the World.
Highlights of Narendra Modi's speech at Bhoomipujan or Foundation Stone Ceremony of Sardar Valabhbhai Patel Statue
- It was dream of Sardar Patel that this Sardar Sarovar dam be built and distribute water in Gujarat and other states. Look at Kutch, for instance, that place was witnessing a negative growth as scores of people were abandoning the place but when we sent water to the people there, the place started developing.
- In Rajasthan which ever government is in power, whenever people of Rajasthan meet me; they thank me for providing water to them
- Sardar Sarovar Shilanyas was constructed by Pandit Nehru but we have spent more in last 10 years than previous governments.
- We welcomed views from people on the 'statue of unity'. I thank everyone for their views and for inspiring us to build this statue.
- It is important to do our global positioning. We need to emerge as a strong nation in the world by presenting ourselves as global leaders and there are various ways of doing it.
- This (statue) is not because of Dam or because Sardar Patel was from Gujarat. The dream is much bigger. It will draw the world to India.
- These last few days I don't know hoy media has been making this (Sardar legacy) an issue. It might be because media has to earn. But to associate Sardar Patel with any party would be great injustice. Yes it was a part of his life we all accept that but his greatness.
- PM was right when he said, "Sardar Patel was truly secular". We also say we need Sardar Patel secularism not vote-bank secularism. He integrated and did not divide the nation.
- Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is like a God for the Dalit community. No one asks which party he belonged to. His life inspires us. When we built Mahatma Mandir did anyone challenge us saying 'Modi you are in BJP and Gandhi ji was never in BJP'? But when it came to Sardar Patel's statute people are having problems, why?
- We want our future to be integrated with history and that is our effort (by building this statue)
- This statue will be a symbol of India rising. I want people from all over the world to see this statue just like they go see America's Statue of Liberty or Paris' Tower (Eiffel Tower)
- Gates have to be installed on Sardar Sarovar Dam, but even after repeatedly speaking to PM over it, they haven't been installed. Centre just needs to call a meeting and give directions for the gates to be installed, but for months nothing has been happening.
Sharad Yadav, JDU leader: "There are crores of statues in the country, another will be added to the dumpyard."
Ajay Maken, Congress leader: "Media writes lot of things which we may dislike, but that doesn't mean we give them no independence to present views or threaten you," he told ANI.
"Vote bank politics is something which they (BJP) are indulging into, by indulging into majority vote bank politics," Maken added.
Captain Abhimanyu, BJP Spokesperson: "I would like to congratulate Shri Narendra Modi JI for laying the foundation stone of the "Statue of unity"" he tweeted.
Digvijaya Singh, Congress Spokesperson: "Today we commemorate Birth Anniversary of India's 'Iron Man' Sardar Patel and Death Anniversary of Indiraji popularly known as 'Iron Lady'. Sardar Patel organised Farmers against the British and was the Father of Cooperative Movement in Gujarat. Under Modi both not on his agenda. Sardar was known for his simplicity and humility Wore Khadj all his life. Modi poses with Designer clothes and Branded Glasses. Humility personified ! Modi- Conceit and Arrogance personified Sardar - United India Modi- Divides NDA BJP and Hindus and Minorities," he tweeted.
He had earlier praised Modi for building Sardar Valabhbhai Patel's statue at Sardar Sarovar.
Meenakashi Lekhi, BJP leader: "Shat shat Naman2Sardar Patel on his B'anniv. just wondering, whether the incumbent UPA's Home Minister's r worthy successors of his legacy?" she tweeted.
Ramachandra Guha, Indian historian and author: "Truth be told, Rahul's claim to inherit (in any way) Nehru's political legacy is as dubious as Modi's claim to Patel's political legacy," he tweeted.
ShivrajSingh Chouhan, Madhya Pradesh CM: "Remembering architect of United India and Iron Man of India, Shri Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel on his birth anniversary today," he tweeted.
Sudheendra Kulkarni, socio-political analyst and author: "India needs leaders like #SardarPatel, whose steely resolve was evident especially in how he integrated Junagadh&Hyderabad into Indian Union," he tweeted.
Check out the video where Modi said Sardar Patel should have been India's First Prime Minister.