BJP’s statue-building race divides Sangh Parivar, while Modi, Shah remain silent

The statue-building race within the Bharatiya Janata Party is causing a lot of consternation in the Sangh Parivar. It is now a divided house on the issue of recent construction of Statue of Unity

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Soroor Ahmed

The statue-building race within the Bharatiya Janata Party is causing a lot of consternation in the Sangh Parivar. It is now a divided house on the issue of recent construction of Statue of Unity, which was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31 last.

Perhaps nothing exemplifies the scenario better than the Dharam Sansad’s rejection of the Yogi Adityanath government’s proposal to build 221 metre tall statue of Ram. The Sansad, which met in Varanasi, said that the UP government’s move is against the faith of Hindus.

Then there is a plan of Devendra Fadnavis’s government to build a 212 metre high statue of Shivaji at Arabian Sea in Mumbai.

The objective behind building till now the tallest statue of the world in Gujarat was political. But now there is no dearth of people within the Sangh Parivar who are not satisfied with the way the whole exercise had been undertaken. They are of the view that Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel was after all a senior Congress leader, who as the first home minister of India, had even banned the RSS. They are of the view that building such a huge statue of the Iron Man of India would not cut much ice.

They contend that the glorification of Sardar Patel by Modi is in fact the recognition of the Congress government’s achievement vis-à-vis merger of 560-odd Princely States, including Hyderabad, Travancore and Junagadh. People know that a deputy Prime Minister can not take such a major step without the consent of the Prime Minister––then Jawaharlal Nehru.

The debate over statue-building was raging just days ahead of the gathering of thousands of farmers in Delhi (on November 29-30) to press their charter of demands. They are citing the figure that 3.10 lakh farmers have committed suicide in the last over two decades

It was this thinking within the Sangh Parivar which motivated many to propose the construction of statues of Shivaji and Ram.

Sangh Parivar-watchers opine that it is conscious decision of the two state governments to build the statues of first Shivaji and then Ram taller than that of Patel. This means that there is a concerted efforts within the Sangh Parivar to cut Prime Minister Narendra Modi to size.

Thus the statue politics first initiated by Modi himself is proving counter-productive.

What is more: the construction of one statue after another is not going to inspire the supporters of the BJP much. It may not even attract voters as expected by the BJP. Last year’s Gujarat Assembly election is an ample proof of this fact. The Saffron Party had to toil very hard to win the votes of Patels who are very upset with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had as the chief minister of the State laid the foundation of the Statue of Unity in October 2013. There is a general impression that the Union and state governments have spent or may spent over ₹10,000 crores on the construction of these three statues.

The debate over statue-building was raging just days ahead of the gathering of thousands of farmers in Delhi (on November 29-30) to press their charter of demands. They are citing the figure that 3.10 lakh farmers have committed suicide in the last over two decades.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has repeatedly taken a dig at this statue-building spree in India. Recently he even showered praise on first Prime Minister Nehru.

The fact that things are not hunky-dory within the Sangh Parivar can be gauged from the silence on the issue of Shivaji and Ram statues by both Narendra Modi and the national BJP president Amit Shah. Even on the issue of changing of names of cities there was silence from duo. They are not making it an election issue in the states where Assembly elections are going on.

For the BJP the chicken perhaps has come home to roost.

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