Countering the Congress charge that BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was “misusing” Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s name for “political gains”, the opposition party Tuesday said the Congress had no patent on the national leader.
With Commerce Minister Anand Sharma turning down Gujarat Chief Minister Modi’s invitation for the foundation-laying programme of Patel’s statue – christened the Statue of Unity and touted as the tallest in the world – in the western state, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said here the freedom fighter did not belong to the present Congress.
“He was a national leader. He belonged to the Congress, and not the present Congress ruling the country,” said Hussain.
Anand Sharma, had in a terse letter to Modi, said Patel’s memory “must not be coloured by partisan political agenda” and that the Gujarat chief minister was “misusing the name of Sardar for political propaganda”.
Hussain said Sharma should first say which is the “real Congress, his party or parties like the Trinamool Congress – which claim they are the real Congress”.
Hussain also accused the Congress of never taking Patel’s name.
“It never takes Patel’s name. It never refers to (former prime minister) P.V. Narasimha Rao. There are no schemes named after Patel. All schemes are after one family,” he said, in a barb at the Nehru-Gandhi family, which has always been the controlling force in the Congress.
“Now, if we show our respect to such a great leader, what is his (Sharma’s) problem?” he asked.
The statue is proposed to be a 182 metre-high monument of Sardar Patel, directly facing the Narmada Dam near Bharuch in Gujarat.
Set to cost Rs.2,500 crore, it includes a bridge linking the statue to the river bank, a memorial, visit centres, a hotel, a convention centre, an amusement park, research centres and institutes, and a memorial garden.
The Gujarat government has come up with a massive electronic and print media publicity campaign. The advertisements include Modi’s appeal to people for contributions. Modi is scheduled to lay the foundation stone Oct 31, the 134th birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.