India inaugurates world's tallest statue

India inaugurates world's tallest statue

Political analysts say Modi's monument to Patel - India's first home minister, who is credited with unifying the country from its fragmented state soon after independence from Britain in 1947 - is a conscious decision to unseat the legacy of the country's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, whose descendants are Modi's opponents.

Standing nearly twice as tall of Statue of Liberty in NY and four times as high as Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the Statue of Unity in Gujarat is a tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 143rd birth anniversary.

Along with the Prime Minister Modi, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah were also present at the event in Sadhu Bet, near the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat's Narmada district.

Standing on the banks of the Narmada River on Wednesday as Indian air force pilots dropped flower petals on Patel's imposing figure, Modi said the statue would serve as a beacon of hope for India and "keep on reminding the whole world" about Patel's courage.

But the authorities took no chances in case community groups staged protests to condemn the decision to spend 29.9 billion rupees ($400 million) - much of it public funds - to build the statue over a almost four-year period.

Thousands of policemen guarded the venue during the inauguration, as local tribal people have been holding protests in recent months claiming the project had destroyed natural resources, the Times of India newspaper reported.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said there was no such huge statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the country and wanted to know why BJP had not built a bigger statue for him.

Including the pedestal, the Statue of Liberty stands about half as tall at 305 feet. The statue has been built to withstand winds of 180km/hour and earthquakes of up to 6.5 Richter scale.

"Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel worked for the unity of the nation".

The Bahujan Samaj Party chief paid tributes to Vallabhbhai Patel, known as the "Iron man of India", on his 143rd birth anniversary. "No Indian will ever forget this day", the Prime Minister said in his speech. "It is not good to project somebody to undermine somebody else", Kharge said.

But it won't remain the world's tallest statue for long.

The proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial, expected to be wrapped up in 2021, will stand at 212 metres.

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