BJP's U-turn on statues: Criticises Mayawati, but allocates Rs 200 crore for 'Statute of Unity'
New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had earlier lambasted the then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for her "obsession" of installing statues in her state, on Thursday did the same. In his maiden Union Budget 2014, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocated a whooping sum of Rs 200 crore for construction of world's tallest statue of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's state Gujarat.
"The Gujarat government has embarked upon the mission to build the largest statue of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. Sardar Patel stands as the symbol of the unity of the country. To support the Gujarat government in this initiative to erect the statue of unity, I propose to set aside a sum of Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion)," Jaitley said in his budget speech.
The 182-metre high statue, also known as the 'Statue of Unity', will be built on 'Sadhu Bet' island in the Narmada river, 3 km away from the Sardar Sarovar dam.
According to the Gujarat government, the construction of the statue as well as a memorial of Sardar Patel will cost it Rs 2,500 crore.
While the finance minister allotted Rs 200 crore for construction of the statue, his budget has only Rs 100 crore for schemes like ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ and others.
The government allocated only Rs 50 crore for making necessary arrangements to ensure women's safety on public transport and Rs 150 for their safety in cities.
This is the first time when a government at the Centre has allocated a huge sum towards the installation of a statue. The decision has attracted sharp criticism from various quarters. It is being said that the finance minister's decision is aimed at pleasing his boss - Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The construction of statute is considered to be Modi's dream project. The foundation stone of monument was laid by Modi in October 2013 when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. Sardar Patel was the first home minister of the country and he hailed from Gujarat.
Notably, in October 2011, when Mayawati inaugurated a Rs 684 crore park - Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal and Green Garden - dedicated to Dalit icons Kashi Ram and Dr BR Ambedkar in Noida, BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy had termed it a "wastage of public money".
"The construction of the big park is nothing but wastage of public money. People don't give mandate to a party to waste their hard-earned money," he had said.
"Mayawati will get a befitting reply from the people of Uttar Pradesh in the next Assembly elections," Rudy further said.
He had also said that expenditure of Rs 650 crore on the park was in violation of the Supreme Court directions.
Spread over 82-acres of land, the park has 24 elephants, the symbol Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and several statues of Dr Ambedkar, Kanshi Ram and of herself.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presenting the Union Budget 2014-15 in the Lok Sabha (Photo PTI)
Earlier, the party had criticised Mayawati at several occasions for her \"obsession\" of installing statues in her state.